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Russia will end foreign inspections under CFE - Ivanov

RIA Novosti

23/05/2007 16:22 (Recasts paragraph 3, adds details, quotes, background in paragraphs 2, 4-14)

MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will no longer receive foreign inspections or send notifications on troops' movement under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, a first deputy prime minister said Wednesday.

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.

Sergei Ivanov told journalists in Moscow, "If the CFE comes into force, we will comply with it. If it doesn't, we won't. There will be no more inspections or notifications."

President Vladimir Putin suggested recently that Moscow might suspend its obligations under the accord if talks with NATO countries show no visible progress in its implementation.

Ivanov said Russia has not withdrawn from the CFE, but has imposed a moratorium. "In practical terms, this will mean that we will not fulfill the commitments we took on until others start fulfilling their commitments. In my opinion, this is an honest position, and is understandable for everyone," he said.

The original 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 power.

NATO countries have refused to ratify the adapted version, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under its Istanbul commitments.

Moscow has pointed out that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic states have not joined the CFE at all, despite a preliminary agreement that they would do so.

The first deputy premier also said Russia does not intend to return to an arms race. "There will be no return to the arms race, at least on the part of the Russian Federation. Proof of this is in the Defense Ministry's budget, including for the upcoming three-year term," he said.

Ivanov, who served as defense minister from March 2001 to February 2007, said the ministry's budget remains at less than 3% of GDP, compared to the Soviet Union's defense budget of 30% of GDP.

"We are not going to increase the military budget to such an extent that it would exert an unbearable load for our whole economy, and for social policy," he said.

The first deputy prime minister also said Russia was not satisfied with the Pentagon's justifications of its planned deployment of missile defense elements in Central Europe.

The U.S. announced plans in January to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic as part of its missile shield aimed at countering possible threats from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

"We are not satisfied with this explanation, or as it is termed in certain circles, 'myth' over the anti-missile system installation. Explanations that it is aimed against North Korea and Iran simply don't hold water," he said.

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