CFE is not subject to resuscitation
In the West, calls for Russia to adopt joint disarmament programs have become more frequent. Now, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke of the need to conclude a new arms control agreement in Europe "to achieve transparency, prevent risks and build trust" in order to avoid a new race between Russia and NATO.
The proposal, as they say, is not devoid of meaning, but only on the condition that it is precisely defined the reasons why “the existing arms control mechanisms have been cracking at the seams for several years.”
How does Mr. Steinmeier identify these causes? “... The terms of the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe (CFE. - Yu.R.), under which, after 1990, tens of thousands were eliminated in Europe tanks and heavy weapons, have been ignored by Russia for several years now, ”he says. - Verification mechanisms for the Vienna Document (in accordance with the Vienna Document 2011, participating states exchange information on military forces and basic weapons and equipment systems, on defense planning and military budgets. - Yu.R.) do not work - Russia refuses to necessary modernization ... And the capture of Crimea turned into a waste paper the Budapest memorandum - a guarantee of security for Ukraine. ”
In Russian, they say in such cases - to throw from a sick head to a healthy one. It is well known that the problem of effective arms control in Europe made three waves of NATO expansion relevant. With the transition to the NATO camp of the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet republics of the Baltic States, the CFE Treaty concluded in 1990 became meaningless. All the flank restrictions established by him were violated in favor of NATO. The adapted version of the treaty, which was supposed to be launched after the OSCE Istanbul Summit in 1999, was rejected by the NATO countries.
However, the leaders of the alliance without laughter claim that NATO, which has not expanded, is on the threshold of Russia, and Russia is approaching the borders of the alliance. In accordance with this logic, turned inside out, Russia, after it stopped its participation in the CFE Treaty in 2007, began to be accused of undermining arms control. The charges intensified after Russia in March 2015 of the year withdrew from the Treaty finally and ceased to participate in meetings of the Joint Consultative Group (SCG) on the CFE Treaty.
In addition, Russia is blamed for undermining the verification mechanisms of the Vienna Document. So, in Washington, they are dissatisfied with the verification of the combat readiness of the armed forces in Russia these days. Similarly, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, responding to a surprise check of the combat and mobilization readiness of the troops held in June in Russia, said that such checks "are a way of not fulfilling the agreements contained in the Vienna Document." The answer from Moscow followed immediately. Anatoly Antonov, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, stressed that Russia had notified the military attaches of the 2011 Vienna State member states of the sudden verification of the armed forces, stressing that this had been done, despite the fact that the provisions of this document were not applicable to verification.
Now, judging by the suggestion of F.-V. Steinmeier, it comes to some kind of reincarnation of the CFE Treaty with the proposal to include in the agreement new weapons systems, to determine the upper limits of regional borders and the minimum distances between them, taking into account new military capabilities and strategies. Steinmeier sees the OSCE as a platform for dialogue, and a structured dialogue with all partners responsible for security on our continent as a form of working out approaches to a future agreement.
Outwardly, everything looks sane, but only outwardly - if you do not see the pitfalls in the Berlin proposal.
There can be no talk of any new version of the old CFE Treaty. Last year’s Moscow’s decision to withdraw from this treaty was not spontaneous, because further adherence to a hopelessly outdated document caused direct damage to Russia's military security. Sergei Lavrov, two years ago, spoke out on this issue quite definitely: “We are called upon to return to the implementation of the so-called CFE Treaty. He rested in the Bose for a long time and cannot be reanimated. ”
It is worth paying attention to the words of F.-V. Steinmeier that a restart of arms control should be applicable to areas with a disputed territorial status. From the point of view of the West, there are such only in the post-Soviet space - Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia. And, of course, the Crimea, whose entry into Russia for the third year is not recognized by the West and is accompanied by anti-Russian sanctions, the abolition of which Steinmeier does not even stutter (at least in the order of initiative that could lead to the start of arms control talks).
If Moscow were involved in the negotiations on the conditions proposed by Steinmeier, it would have to participate in such an absurdity as to agree on the volume and range of weapons located on its own territory in Crimea, as well as on the territory of its allied, although not recognized, republics. Or, even worse, “exchange” the status of these republics for some concessions to the West under the agreement sought. The latter, it is possible, may concern the republics of New Russia.
Next: unlike the CFE Treaty, which was signed by 19 in November on 1990, that is, in the context of the confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the new treaty cannot proceed from the past bloc structure. The very fact of adopting at the NATO summit in Warsaw (2016) in Warsaw a strategy of containing the “threat from the East” and “intimidation” of Russia suggests that the West would benefit from a design in which Russia would be forced to negotiate with the alliance as a whole.
Agreeing with such an approach would mean stepping on the old rake: after all, it is precisely the block principle on which the CFE Treaty was built (despite the fact that the quotas of arms and equipment limited by treaty were established for each individual country and were complemented by numerical limitation of weapons on the flanks of the NATO-line ATS), allowed one side - NATO to strengthen at the expense of the other side - the Warsaw Pact that collapsed soon and eventually forced Russia to measure its groupings with the forces of the alliance as a whole. Despite the fact that the cold war was solemnly declared in the West ended.
Conclusion one: in the case of the development of a new treaty, each of the countries participating in it should take the appropriate restrictions.
Of course, the most important condition for starting work on a new arms control treaty is to end the war in the Donbas. In all his postwar history Europe did not know the fighting of such duration. Ukraine has become a “black hole”, dragging a huge amount of weapons... It is impossible to imagine that, as long as Ukraine conducts systematic shelling of the cities of Donbass, the Kiev regime will take over at least some voluntary arms restrictions. And without this, no security system in Europe is possible.
“Our defense capabilities, both in the West and in Russia, are experiencing increased pressure. And no one will win, everyone will only lose from the exhausting arms race, ”we must agree with this conclusion of the German Foreign Minister. It remains only to agree on the causes of the "increased load".