Russia expects NATO to ratify CFE treaty - Gorbachev
24/05/2007 17:13 MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is not pulling out of the treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe, but is waiting for other countries to ratify the pact, ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday.
President Vladimir Putin suggested recently that Moscow might suspend its obligations under the adapted Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in its implementation. On Wednesday, a first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, announced that Russia would no longer receive foreign inspections or send notifications on the movement of troops under the CFE treaty.
"I do not think we are withdrawing from the treaty," Gorbachev said in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio station. "We are waiting for them [other signatories] to ratify it."
He said the current geopolitical situation demanded a revision of the balance of forces after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the changing role of the Western military alliance.
"It is natural that Russian politicians and generals raise this question - if they [NATO] delay ratification, then they could have a secret agenda," Gorbachev said, adding that double-standard policies on the part of the West undermine mutual trust.
Russia has ratified the adapted CFE treaty, which replaced an agreement reached at the end of the Cold War between NATO and the Eastern Bloc to curb the arms race, but of the countries that initially signed the pact, no NATO members have yet ratified it, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under the "Istanbul Agreements."
The re-vamped CFE treaty, amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities, has so far only been ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. The aim of the pact is to force members to reduce their conventional military forces.
Moscow has repeatedly pointed out that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic states have not joined the adapted CFE treaty at all, despite a preliminary agreement that they would do so.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a European security forum in Vienna on Wednesday that continued references by Western partners to an alleged political link between the adapted CFE treaty's ratification with Russia's fulfillment of the so-called "Istanbul Agreements" have "turned the European arms control process into an instrument for achieving political goals that have nothing to do with European security or arms control."
"Without the clear prospect of an adapted CFE treaty entering into force, it would be irresponsible to keep pretending to act in the arms control sphere," the diplomat said.
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