WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), issued the following statement on Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Russia notified member countries of the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) of its intended suspension of the treaty, effective 150 days from July 14, 2007, stating that it was due in part to “extraordinary circumstances” affecting security:
“We are deeply disappointed in Russia’s decision to suspend the CFE treaty. This unilateral pronouncement is clearly not about ‘extraordinary circumstances’ affecting Russia’s security, but rather a discontent with the United States’ plan to place missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. We find this not only to be unsettling, but also quite unfortunate. While Russia claims that it is not ‘shutting the door to dialogue,’ it is quite evident that this one-sided decision has been made out of haste and is a step backwards for European security. It is our most sincere hope that Russia will reconsider its decision,” said Hastings and Cardin.
The CFE was negotiated by NATO and ex-Warsaw Pact member states and signed in 1990. The CFE, one of the most significant arms control treaties of the Cold War, established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry. It was amended in 1999 to reflect the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the fact that many of the Warsaw Pact allies had joined NATO. However, this revised version has not yet been ratified by NATO member states.