Putin signs law on Russian moratorium on CFE Treaty

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Moscow, Nov 30 (UNI) President Vladimir Putin today signed the law suspending Russia's membership in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

According to the law, the moratorium will come into force on December 12.

Russia considers the existing CFE Treaty to be discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the recent NATO expansion.

The State Duma, lower house of parliament, unanimously passed the bill on November 7 and the Federation Council, upper house, approved it on November 16, the Kremlin press reported.

The original CFE Treaty was signed in December 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members.

The Treaty set equal limits for the sides on five categories of conventional weapons - battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

The modified version of the Treaty, which Western countries consider a cornerstone of European security, was signed on November 19, 1999 by all NATO countries except Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia.

Only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have ratified the adapted version of the CFE Treaty.

NATO countries have insisted on Russia's withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia as a condition for their ratification of the modified CFE Treaty.

Talking to mediapersons in Madrid yesterday, after an annual meeting of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, ''NATO member countries had literally imposed in 2001 their own moratorium on the adapted version of the CFE treaty.'' ''Despite the fact that Russia had fulfilled by that time all its obligations under the so-called Istanbul agreements, they linked the ratification of the adapted CFE document to Russia's fulfilment of additional conditions, which have nothing to do with the CFE Treaty,'' he said.

Mr Lavrov reiterated that the moratorium does not stipulate that Russia will permanently pull out of the CFE Treaty, and will resume its implementation as soon as NATO countries ratify the adapted version.

UNI

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