Another landmark arms control agreement intended to prevent the kind of dangerous arms and troop build-up among rival superpowers which characterized the Cold War era has died. The US and NATO on Tuesday announced suspension of their participation in the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which limits conventional forces in Europe, after Russia was the first to formally withdraw.
"Russia’s withdrawal is the latest in a series of actions that systematically undermines Euro-Atlantic Security," a statement from NATO's North Atlantic Council said. The suspension of the treaty is formally set to take place on Dec.7.
"Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty is unsustainable and requires a strong response from the alliance," a senior State Department official was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying. "Taking no action would send the wrong message."
The Kremlin had announced just prior to NATO's statement, "The CFE Treaty was concluded at the end of the Cold War, when the formation of a new architecture of global and European security based on cooperation seemed possible, and appropriate attempts were made."
At the time the CFE was signed, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Moscow was seen as having the upper hand in terms of its conventional weaponry arsenal in Europe, thus the treaty was seen as a disadvantage to the Russian side.
The treaty was meant to prevent either side of the former Iron Curtain from rapidly building up forces for a surprise attack in the heart of Europe.
The treaty was already seen as fundamentally dead after a years-long de-ratification process slowly advanced through the Russian government:
The long-expected move came after both houses of the Russian parliament approved a Bill proposed by President Vladimir Putin denouncing the treaty, known as CFE. Mr Putin signed the Bill into force in May this year.
Russia suspended its participation in 2007, and in 2015 announced its intention to completely withdraw from the agreement.
In February 2022, Moscow invaded Ukraine, sending hundreds of thousands of Russian troops into the neighboring country, which also shares a border with Nato members Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.
NATO countries like Germany and Poland have lately declared their intent to drastically expand their military capabilities, both in manpower and defense technology, much of which also is supplied via Washington. The conflict in Ukraine has also increasingly been recognized internationally as a 'proxy war' - and all the while 'safeguards' in the form of historic treats collapse one by one.