Russian lawmakers vote to withdraw from Cold War arms treaty in Europe

Russian legislators have voted to formally pull out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which aims at limiting key categories of conventional military equipment in the continent.

The treaty was signed in 1990 by the US-led NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, comprising the Soviet Union and its allies in Europe, with a declared aim of putting limits on the number of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, helicopters, and aircraft stationed in Europe.

The signatories intended to prevent the sides from amassing forces for a blitzkrieg-type offensive, and establishing a military balance.

In 2007, however, Russia suspended its participation in the treaty, and in March 2015, citing NATO’s repeatedly violating provisions of the agreement and refusing to ratify an updated version of the treaty, formally announced it was “completely” halting its participation in the treaty.

Despite suspending its participation in the CFE, Russia continued to take part in the consulting group related to the treaty, which is regarded as a cornerstone of security in post-Cold War Europe.

On Tuesday, the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, passed a bill, a draft of which was submitted by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, for the denunciation of the CFE.

“[Russia’s] definitive withdrawal from the CFE Treaty and its denunciation fully correspond to the national interest of ensuring Russia’s security,” said Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

A day earlier, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Monday stressed that the treaty “has long ceased to correspond to reality” and that it “did not really work for many years.”

He also suggested that Russia’s pullout of the CFE would not have any impact on regional security, which, he claimed, has already been damaged by the actions of NATO-aligned countries.

“Western countries had more than enough time to show common sense. But they preferred to follow the path of further NATO expansion and confrontation with Russia,” Ryabkov added, stressing that the treaty is “contrary to Russia’s security interests.”

On Tuesday, Ryabkov also told the State Duma that NATO countries had “made it impossible” for Russia to remain in the CFE pact by allowing for the US-led military bloc’s expansion into Central and Eastern Europe.

The development comes as Moscow has time and again warned the United States and its European allies not to pour weapons into Ukraine, against which Russia has been waging a war since February last year.

Since the onset of the war, Washington and the European Union have supplied Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems despite Moscow’s warnings that the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.

NATO ‘turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing’

Despite its declared defensive nature, the US-led NATO “has turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It has done nothing but attack and advance, bringing suffering to people and destroying countries: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria,” said State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on Tuesday.

“Washington, using NATO [as its tool] and pumping the terrorist Kyiv regime with weapons, is destabilizing the situation in the world in order to preserve its own hegemonic position. This is provoking a global catastrophe,” he lamented.

The Federation Council, Russia’s upper chamber, is scheduled to consider Russia’s withdrawal from the CFE next Wednesday.

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