Military Review

CFE Treaty: more than a treaty, or on the issue of mutual trust

CFE Treaty: more than a treaty, or on the issue of mutual trustLate last week, the question of the renewal of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) was raised twice at the highest level. 17 September, the Russian defense minister discussed this topic with his American counterpart, Robert Gates. As reported by RIA NewsAnatoly Serdyukov said that Russia will continue the moratorium on the CFE Treaty until it is offered an option that will suit us. This topic was raised in the speeches of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the recent informal Russia-NATO Council summit in New York.

“The American side is well aware that it is rather strange to fulfill the CFE Treaty in the form in which it exists. Russia does not change its position. Therefore, the moratorium continues to operate until we are offered options that suit us. Russia a few years ago, quite clearly defined its position. Gates says he also doesn’t understand how to limit the movement of his troops in the United States, ”the minister said.

In addition, the Minister said that an agreement was reached on the resumption of the work of expert groups to discuss the CFE Treaty problem.

On the same day, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in his speech at the Rome Institute Aspen, literally said: “The control of conventional weapons is the second (after the missile defense) track, on which we should make progress in relations with Russia. The CFE Treaty is the real “unsung hero” of the post-Cold War period ... But the current situation cannot continue. For the countries of the alliance it will become politically difficult, and then completely impossible to comply with the requirements of the Treaty if Russia does not fulfill them. And if it comes to this, then we will face a real instability in Europe - with what we don’t want. Now we have a chance to solve this problem before it gets worse. ”

Rasmussen continued: “The United States is making efforts to breathe new life into the Treaty. And all NATO allies came to an agreement on the framework principles of new negotiations with all the countries of the CFE Treaty, including, of course, Russia. These are simple principles: mutual transparency with respect to conventional forces, their maintenance, movement, basing, training, exercises, etc .; mutual restrictions, deterrence and inspection of these forces; last but not least, the consent of the host country to the deployment of foreign troops. On this foundation, negotiations are under way within the OSCE. And I urge all parties to agree with these principles. Our goal is to strengthen security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic space. ”

Considering that the NATO Secretary General visited the United States just a few days before his speech about Russia - 6 – 7 September, the actualization of this topic by two representatives of the West: Gates and Rasmussen - indicates the coordination of their actions. The US and NATO want to speed up the resolution of the issue that has constantly been raised by the West for at least the last three years - all the time that the moratorium on the CFE Treaty is in effect on the part of the Russian Federation.

NATO has repeatedly called on Russia to end the moratorium. It seems that now we are on the threshold of serious progress in this matter. Therefore, I consider it extremely important to remind the Russian reader what the CFE Treaty is and what approaches to disentangling this problem node under the “reset” conditions Russia insists.


But I want to begin not with the facts about the Treaty, but with my personal attitude to this problem. Understanding the historical context is crucial. I am not one of those politicians who regret the collapse of the communist regime in Russia and nostalgic for the Soviet government. The moral bankruptcy of Marxism, the degradation of the CPSU, which had completely lost touch with reality, economic and social decline under the conditions of external pressure of the Cold War, actual betrayal, the capitulation of the state party system which had fallen into insanity in the face of external and internal challenges — all these and many other factors led to the inevitable conditions final.

Communism, which had exhausted the people and wasted Russia in global utopian adventures, went into oblivion, but dragged along with it the state unity of a great country that was scattered along the Leninist-Stalinist administrative borders. Russia, along with the material and technical base and the recoloured elite, inherited the debts and international obligations of the Soviet Union. The former RSFSR became the legal successor (sometimes the inaccurate term "assignee" is used) of the Soviet Union.

Russia for several post-Soviet years painfully followed the algorithm laid down in the late USSR, which had already led to the self-destruction of the state. Our western "friends", these hawks (or even vultures) in pigeon feathers, did not feel remorse for a second and with might and main followed the Nietzschean principle of "weak nudge." Therefore, 1990's will remain in the newest stories Russia as a time of colossal retreat, foreign policy absurdity, the collapse of security institutions and internal chaos. On the international plane, this was the era when enslaved, completely colonial in essence obligations were imposed on Russia.

One of the most striking examples is the CFE Treaty, signed in Paris at the very end of the Soviet period of our history - 19 in November 1990 - as a pact between the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Alliance.


The CFE Treaty, which came into force on November 9 of 1992, provided for flank restrictions on conventional weapons and the “ceilings” of heavy equipment on both sides, as well as a procedure for monitoring compliance with requirements. Russia "inherited" and was forced to fulfill its Soviet obligations under the conditions when NATO began to expand to the east, accepting the ceased existence of the Warsaw bloc.

The so-called “fourth expansion of NATO” in 1999 year joined Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to the Washington Treaty. The split line of Europe, which for many years lay between the two German states, moved closer to the post-Soviet borders. The balance of forces did not change in favor of the Russian Federation, and the reason for this is our impeccable fulfillment of the terms of the Treaty, which was an obvious anachronism of the Cold War!

However, the 19 of November 1999 of the year in Istanbul at the OSCE summit, the countries parties to the Treaty signed the Agreement on Adaptation - the so-called renewed CFE Treaty, which shifted the focus from a bloc level to a national one. Russia ratified it in 2004. He slightly compensated for the distortion of the meaning of the first treaty, caused by the expansion of NATO and changes in Europe after the collapse of the USSR. But flank restrictions in the south and in the north of the Russian Federation, quotas for the movement of military equipment and weapons across our sovereign territory were retained in the new version of the Treaty.

Nevertheless, Western countries refused to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation, hurrying Russia with the withdrawal of troops from Georgia and Transdniestria. Agreement on this was reached on a bilateral basis with Chisinau and Tbilisi in Istanbul in 1999, but their implementation was not at all a condition for the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty. The linking of the “Istanbul commitments” on the withdrawal of troops with the renewed CFE Treaty was taken by the Westerners from the ceiling simply as a convenient, albeit completely unjustifiable, reason to delay ratification on their part.

A few words about the fulfillment by Russia of the notorious “Istanbul obligations”. From Georgia, becoming unfriendly towards Moscow, we completely withdrew our troops and disbanded four military bases. The implications of this step made themselves felt in August 2008.

I do not want to say that if there was a Russian base in Georgia, Saakashvili would not attack the convoy with humanitarian aid and would not bomb South Ossetia. But it is likely that events would have developed differently if our military base remained in the territory under the control of the Georgian Fuhrer - no moral restrictions would prevent him from using our children as hostages. Now our troops are not on the territory of Georgia (as is well known, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are already independent states).

As for Transnistria, there are no longer any troops as such. Do not consider the army a small group of peacekeepers and the protection of army warehouses in the town of Sausage? If you remove this guard, you can easily imagine what will happen to explosives and weapons from warehouses. The experience of the first Chechen war taught us that to leave ammunition unattended is unacceptable under any circumstances.


Meanwhile, in the 2004 year, another wave of NATO expansion occurred, including in the Baltic republics. The arms quotas of the former Warsaw Pact countries have shifted to an alliance swelling to the 26 member countries. As a result, today the sum of the national quotas of the NATO countries significantly exceeds the group limits set by the existing CFE Treaty, and for all five weapon groups.

As a result of expansion, the alliance exceeded the permissible limits on conventional armed forces by 5992 combat tank, 9882 armored fighting vehicles, 5111 artillery units, 1497 combat aircraft and 531 attack helicopters! This despite the fact that Russia, according to the Treaty, has the right to only 1300 tanks, 2140 armored vehicles and 1680 artillery pieces throughout its European territory. In addition, the Baltic countries and Slovakia, which did not participate in the CFE Treaty, were closed to inspection by Russian observers and were not formally obligated to fulfill the obligations of the Treaty.

Thus, the Baltic states that joined NATO were and remain a “gray zone” from the point of view of arms control. The accession of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to NATO had no effect on the revision of the “group” restrictions of the existing CFE Treaty. At the same time, the United States, which has also not ratified the Adaptation Agreement, is openly planning to deploy its military facilities in Romania and Bulgaria.

About any balance of forces we were no longer talking. With regard to Russia, flank restrictions on the deployment of weapons and equipment were clearly discriminatory. Russia was enslaving in a one-sided manner, blinking her eyes in surprise, and seemed not to give an account of what was happening. What is not a story for imitators of Daniel Kharms and Samuel Beckett?

All this orgy simply could not continue, and in 2007, Russia announced a unilateral moratorium on the implementation of the CFE Treaty and related international treaties. A partial liberation from colonial dependence on security issues, the restoration of national sovereignty and the breaking of shameful chains finally took place.

A few years before Vladimir Putin appealed to the Federal Assembly, I spoke with him about the need to withdraw from this treaty, or at least about the introduction of a moratorium. Judge for yourself: in the context of the conduct of hostilities in the Caucasus, we were forced to coordinate the movement of groups of our armed forces with officials in Brussels, Washington and Vienna. That is, in fact, we waged an anti-terrorist campaign with our hands tied!

But better late than never. The CFE Treaty was not just one of the many treaties recently concluded or inherited from the late Soviet period. It was a symbol of national humiliation, a lack of independence imposed on us in decision-making, a lack of freedom in determining the configuration of the troops on our own territory - and even without mutual obligations!

The moratorium on the operation of the treaty became a Rubicon for our foreign and defense policy: Russia made it clear that it would never agree to accept such restrictions unilaterally. Playing strip cards with sharper and hypnotists will no longer entice us. The security interests of our own citizens will never be infringed upon by dubious deals made to the detriment of times of weakness.

However, this does not mean that Russia intends to change the balance of the armed forces on its territory or that we are preparing a war with the countries of Europe, which is what the Baltic and Eastern European colleagues like to frighten their NATO partners. On the contrary, the moratorium on the CFE Treaty means that Russia intends to move more resolutely towards the conclusion of a new treaty.


For Russia, the struggle for a new, more equitable CFE Treaty is of a fundamental nature. There is simply no alternative to this regime in the field of conventional arms control today, so it is imperative that it function on a fair and equitable basis.

The first and main condition for the lifting of the moratorium on the part of the Russian Federation is the ratification and fulfillment of the terms of the renewed Treaty by Western countries, as well as the accession of the NATO Komsomol states to the CFE Treaty, primarily the return of the Baltic countries from the gray zone to the treaty field.

In addition, it is imperative to achieve a reduction in the “sum of permitted levels” (ceilings) for an enlarged NATO. It is necessary to agree on a common understanding of which combat forces are considered “essential” in order to prevent speculation on differences in classification and terminology. It is absolutely necessary to abolish the discriminatory flank sublevels for Russia, which impede the movement of military forces across our territory. You also need to think over the mechanism by which new participants can join the CFE Treaty.

We even agree that Western states should begin to apply the adapted CFE Treaty before ratification by the parliaments of these countries on a temporary basis. But to date, there are no answers to these proposals from either Washington or Brussels: they are still talking about the “Istanbul commitments”.

Now the ball is on the NATO side: our partners have not yet fulfilled their obligations to ratify, which artificially support the situation in a deadlock. Meanwhile, Russia has already fulfilled all obligations undertaken voluntarily and is ready to participate in the negotiations only if we are not offered new enslaving conditions and other obviously unacceptable requirements.

In addition, I believe that it is time to begin to formulate an agenda for negotiations on the further modernization of the Treaty. Personally, I believe that the new agreement, among other things, should provide for the inclusion of the naval component, because today many of the NATO countries have a significant advantage over the Russian naval force in the naval forces fleet.

In general, it is necessary to understand that both parts of Europe are now passing an important test. The question of the CFE Treaty is above all a question of trust between Russia and NATO. Both sides need security guarantees, so the viability of the CFE Treaty regime is in the interests of both Russia and the countries of the alliance. I believe that negotiations on the future of the CFE Treaty regime should be conducted both within the OSCE, and on the Russia-NATO Council site, and between the countries parties to the Treaty on a bilateral basis.

The achievement of mutually acceptable agreements will allow us to further quickly exchange information about the state of things of each other, exercising arms control throughout the European continent within the framework of mutual obligations based on transparency and trust. The number of tanks and artillery guns will cease to be a painful issue, and we will be able to do what corresponds to the interests of both parties - military and non-military cooperation.

Finally, the successful resolution of the issue will help us move to a new level of mutual assistance. Today, the spirit of rivalry and confrontation is manifested in the unwillingness of the West to take into account Russia's wishes. In terms of trust and practical cooperation, there will be a need for joint reflection of common challenges and threats, and therefore the need for conventional weapons will be primarily around the perimeter of a larger Europe, including Russia, and not at national borders within Europe.

Creating a single and indivisible security space will eliminate military confrontation and even planning against each other. It is necessary to avoid the militarization of space along the line of contact between Russia and NATO, and use the released potential to jointly confront new challenges and threats. And then the dream of NATO Secretary General Rasmussen to strengthen security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region will come true.
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