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    Russian parliament votes for Putin's moratorium on CFE Treaty - 2

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    Russia's lower house of parliament has voted in favor of President Putin's bill to impose a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

    (Recasts paras 2-3, adds Russian officials' quotes, details in paras 7-16)

    MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's lower house of parliament has voted in favor of President Putin's bill to impose a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

    The moratorium on the arms reduction pact will take effect on the night of December 12-13, after final approval by the upper house of parliament, which is expected to vote on the issue on November 16, and President Vladimir Putin.

    Putin signed a decree to suspend the 1990 CFE Treaty in mid-July, citing national security concerns. However, the proposal has been widely seen in the West as a Kremlin move to prevent the U.S. from deploying a missile shield in Central Europe.

    The amended version of the Soviet-era treaty was signed in 1999, and has not been ratified by any NATO countries.

    Meanwhile, Moscow considers the original CFE Treaty to be outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion. NATO countries have insisted on Russia's withdrawal from Transdnestr and other breakaway post-Soviet regions as a condition for their ratification of the CFE Treaty.

    The moratorium does not stipulate that Russia will permanently pull out of the CFE Treaty, although it temporarily "freezes" its implementation by Russia and serves as a warning that the country will protect its national interests with determination, an explanatory note to the document says.

    During Wednesday's parliamentary hearings, senior Russian military commanders reiterated the importance of the CFE Treaty revision and again called on NATO members to ratify its amended version.

    Russia's Defense Ministry said it might reinforce its troops near its western borders if parliament supported the president's proposed moratorium on a key arms reduction treaty in Europe.

    "We are carrying out work as regards the issue," said First Deputy Defense Minister, Gen. Alexander Kolmakov, but added that no final decision had been made so far.

    The ministry earlier said that over the last decade, NATO has 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 some 1,500 combat planes.

    Russia's chief of the General Staff, General of the Army Yuri Baluyevsky said Russia must abolish a Flank limitations clause in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty if the document is to be amended.

    Russia's so-called flank zone includes both the Leningrad Military District in the north and the North Caucasus Military District in the south.

    "If the treaty is to be adapted, it must be adapted with the elimination of the flank regime, because the current amended version still includes these flank limitations," Baluyevsky said.

    The general said the current treaty favored the U.S. and NATO because it allowed them to implement an "eastward expansion" strategy and monitor Russian troops in the European part of Russia.

    He said the treaty was discriminatory and any possible future dismantling of it would not affect Russia as much as it would affect Europe.

    "Russia has a sufficient arsenal of forces, means, and resources to ensure its security and national interests," Baluyevsky said.

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