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8th November 2023 (14 Topics)

Russia moves out of Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces

Context

Russia pulled itself out of Cold War era Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces.

What is Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces?

  • Negotiated during the final years of the Cold War, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is often referred to as the "cornerstone of European security." 
  • The treaty, signed on November 19, 1990, eliminated the Soviet Union's overwhelming quantitative advantage in conventional weapons in Europe. By setting equal limits on the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the Warsaw Pact members could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.
  • The CFE Treaty was designed to prevent either alliance from amassing forces for a blitzkrieg-type offensive and to establish a military balance between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, at a lower level of armaments. 

In Brief:

Signed in 1990, just a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the CFE set constraints on conventional arms and equipment. Its purpose was to stop Cold War rivals from building up forces that could be used in a swift assault. 

  • CFE Treaty brought equality between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in each category of weapons that needed to be reduced, and the treaty cut more Warsaw Pact weapons because there were more of them. 

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 31 member states – 29 European and two North American.

It is a collective security system: its independent member states agree to defend each other against attacks by third parties.

During the Cold War, NATO operated as a check on the threat posed by the Soviet Union

For the above reason the treaty was unpopular at the time of its signing in Moscow.

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Warsaw Pact: Formally called the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (TFCMA), was a collective defense treaty signed in WarsawPoland, between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War

 It provides an unprecedented degree of transparency on military holdings.

Why has Russia pulled out of the Treaty?

  • The country had suspended its involvement in treaty since 2007 citing non-compliance of the provision by US and its allies.
  • Russia also made complaints that newly added members of NATO such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia were not party to the treaty and therefore not under obligation to amass troops near their borders with Russia.
  • In the year 2015, Russia had announced his intention from withdrawing from the treaty altogether.
  • The provisions of treaty were felt to be in threat after the start of Ukraine War.
  • The war let to Russian forces entering Ukraine and moving close to the borders of Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.
  • In May 2023, the Russian Parliament approved a Bill that proposed Vladimir Putin to denounce the Treaty.
  • After the withdrawal from the treaty the Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the treaty was not catering to Russia’s interests, adding that NATO countries began to circumvent restrictions imposed as the US-led military alliance expanded.

Consequences:

  • Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty was followed by 31 member states of NATO suspending their commitments to the same.
  • This is the second major treaty on security from which Russia has withdrawn in recent times following the Ukraine war, first being the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
  • The move is bond to heighten the tension between Russia and the West even more making resolution of dispute on Ukraine even more difficult.
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