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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia: NATO Threat to Arms Pact

VIENNA -- Russia on Wednesday said an eastward expansion of NATO could threaten European security and destabilize the post-Cold War military balance.


Speaking at the review conference of the Conventional Forces in Europe, or CFE, treaty which began earlier in the day, Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said Russia was worried the North Atlantic military alliance could polarize Europe.


"The principle of stability based on blocs which is being re-admitted by some people is pulling us back to the past and is not showing us the road into the future," he said in a statement made available to the media.


"The Russian side cannot but feel concerned about the plans to enlarge NATO including their consequences for the very basis of the CFE," he said.


Russia says the 1990 CFE treaty, widely considered a pillar of post-Cold War security, is outdated because it was negotiated before the collapse of the Soviet Union and Moscow's loss of strategically sensitive areas south of the Caucasus mountains and in the Baltic area.


"Contrary to the basic goals of the treaty, it has not been possible to overcome the consequences of the division of Europe ... namely the unequal security of members of military and political alliances and states which are not members," Mamedov said.


"The treaty needs urgent reinforcement, improvement and adaptation," he said, adding that it had failed to keep pace with changes on the international stage.


Diplomats say the goal of the review conference, which is closed to the media and ends May 31, is to win fresh commitments to the treaty to cap weapons and troops around the continent, not rewrite it.


Most of the 30 signatory states have pointed to what they call the undoubted success of the pact at reducing the numbers of conventional arms from the Atlantic to the Urals.


More than 50,000 pieces of military equipment have been destroyed in the three-year reduction period which ended last November. The total includes nearly 19,000 battle tanks, 18,000 armored combat vehicles and thousands of artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.


Russia is in technical violation of the CFE treaty by failing to meet its weapons cuts obligations on time. Moscow was mainly unable to comply with the pact because of the weaponry it sent to subdue Chechen rebels in the southern Caucasus region.


Armenia and Azerbaijan, in dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, have also not yet met arms reduction limits.


Russia's problems with the CFE treaty also involve the issue of "flank limitations" -- the amount of military hardware states may amass on their borders -- which threatened to bog down the talks.


But a German delegate said discussions were under way between U.S. Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis and Mamedov to resolve the issue.