WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), introduced a resolution expressing serious concern with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Russia notified member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 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.
“Russia’s announcement regarding the unilateral suspension of the CFE treaty is quite troubling. Although it certainly reflects Moscow’s discontent with the United States’ plan to place missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, the decision appears to have a parallel purpose, which is to present President Putin and his United Russia party as “tough on the West” as Russia moves toward parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2007 and March 2008 respectively. It further reveals Moscow’s general resentment over what it sees as a cavalier attitude by the U.S and NATO toward Moscow’s security interests, and a desire by many Russian elites to” renegotiate the treaties” they see as forced upon Russia in the chaotic and economically depressed 1990s,” said Hastings. The CFE was reached at negotiations separate from but under the auspices of the original Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and signed during the November 1990 CSCE Paris Conference, (along with the Charter of Paris). In 1995, CSCE became the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. 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.