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Russia refuses to share info under CFE after Dec. 12 moratorium

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Russia will not share information with NATO under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty after its unilateral moratorium comes into effect on December 12, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, December 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not share information with NATO under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty after its unilateral moratorium comes into effect on December 12, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

Moscow considers the original CFE treaty, signed in December 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members, to be discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

"At present, Russia must share information specified by the provisions of the original CFE treaty. We will not provide this information, although we are supposed to on December 15," Anatoly Antonov, head of the department on security and disarmament at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told a Moscow-Berlin video conference at RIA Novosti.

Russia's law suspending its participation in the CFE Treaty officially came into force on December 3. The moratorium itself will take effect at the stroke of midnight on December 12-13.

The Russian diplomat said Moscow will not share information under the modified version of the CFE treaty either, because NATO countries had not ratified the document and "the information-sharing mechanism had never been established."

The modified version of the arms control treaty, which Western countries consider a cornerstone of European security, was signed on November 19, 1999 by all NATO countries except Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia.

However, only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have ratified the adapted version of the document. NATO countries have insisted on Russia's withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia as a condition for their ratification of the modified CFE treaty.

Antonov reiterated that Russia was strictly opposed to any attempts by the West to link the ratification of the adapted CFE document to Russia's fulfillment of the so called Istanbul agreements.

"We believe that we have observed all CFE-related obligations under the Istanbul agreements," the diplomat said. "We are against linking the "frozen conflicts" to issues related to arms reduction."

He said that by temporarily suspending its participation in the CFE treaty, Moscow is trying to attract NATO's attention to serious disproportions in the levels of conventional forces in Europe.

According to Russia's Defense Ministry, NATO had substantially exceeded armament levels permitted by the CFE for NATO members - by 6,000 tanks, some 10,000 armored vehicles, over 5,000 artillery items and 1,500 combat planes.

"The moratorium is not a goal in itself. It is a means of telling our [Western] partners that the current situation with weaponry in Europe is totally unfair," Antonov said, adding Moscow was hoping that NATO countries would expedite their efforts to resume constructive talks on the CFE.

Meanwhile, Alexei Arbatov, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences Center for International Security, said Russia's moratorium would mostly affect European countries rather than the United States.

"I think that the U.S. will not be seriously concerned over this step [the moratorium], because Washington has other concerns to deal with at the moment," Arbatov said Wednesday at the same video conference.

He said the U.S. deployed far less conventional weapons in Europe that is stipulated in the CFE treaty: "130 tanks, while they could have had 4,000 under the treaty, 700 armored vehicles compared to the ceiling of 5,000, etc."

In contrast, Arbatov said, European countries, which constitute the core of NATO and the European Union, were more sensitive to the effects of the Russian moratorium because they were interested, primarily, in improving political and economic ties with Russia.

"From a military perspective, they [European countries] may not be really worried by the Russian move, but from a political standpoint their concern is immense," the expert said.

Arbatov expressed doubts that the December 12 moratorium would force NATO countries to ratify the adapted CFE. He said it may only lead to further talks on the issue of European security and the balance of forces with the aim of reaching some kind of compromise.

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