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CFE moratorium does not imply military buildup - Russia's Lavrov

RIA Novosti

18/12/2007 17:02 RIGA, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Even though Russia has frozen its compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the country does not plan to build up armed forces in its European part, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Russia's unilateral moratorium on the CFE Treaty, on reducing conventional armed forces from the Atlantic to the Urals, came into force on December 12.

Sergei Lavrov also said the moratorium does not mean that Russia has refused to continue negotiations with its Western partners.

"We are not closing the door; we are ready to continue negotiations if NATO countries are prepared to address our legitimate concerns, which are not contrived," he said.

Moscow considers the original CFE treaty, signed in December 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members, to be discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

Russia has urged NATO countries to ratify the adapted version of the treaty, signed on November 19, 1999 and so far ratified only by Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Lavrov said Moscow is interested in preserving the CFE Treaty as a mechanism to control conventional forces in Europe.

He reiterated Russia's concerns over U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in Central Europe, which he said are affecting the balance of strategic forces.

NATO has said that regrets Russia's decision to impose a moratorium on the arms reductions treaty, which the West regards as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security, and has urged Moscow to reverse its decision.

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