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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lavrov Says Arms Treaty Will Stay

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia would not seek to abandon a key arms control treaty when a conference of signatories is held next week in Vienna.

Russia last month called for the emergency conference amid increasing friction between Moscow and NATO. President Vladimir Putin in April called for a moratorium on Russia's observation of the Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and said Russia could dump the pact altogether.

"The question of Russia's leaving the treaty won't be raised" at the Vienna conference," Lavrov said.

The treaty establishes limitations on countries' deployment of tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters and combat aircraft. It was signed in 1990 and amended in 1999 to reflect changes since the Soviet breakup; Russia has ratified the amended version but the United States and other NATO members have not.

The Western countries that have not ratified the amended version say they will not do so until Russia withdraws its troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia.

Lavrov called those demands "artificial ties" and said Russia called the conference "to be a forum where we will put forward our concerns."

The U.S. State Department floated the idea Tuesday of creating a multinational peacekeeping force in Moldova to replace the Russian troops and thus resolve the dispute over the CFE.

The dispute comes as Russia and the United States spar over a U.S. proposal to place elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Lavrov said Russia was ready for further discussions, but apparently held to Moscow's dismissal of U.S. concerns of a threat of missile attacks from countries like Iran. "When we are convinced that [the system] is not aimed against us but against Iran and North Korea, we are ready to sit at the negotiating table and discuss the reality of such threats -- professionally, without propaganda, without the presence of the press, at the level of military specialists with globes and compasses in their hands," Lavrov said.