Russia and the CFE Treaty

A. Official Documents and Declarations
     I. The CFE Treaty
        1. The CFE Agreement of 1990 
        2. The Adaptation of the CFE 
     II. The Question of the Flank Agreement and Russian Military Bases in Georgia and Moldova
        1. Russian Military Presence in Georgia 
        2. Russian Military Presence in Moldova 
B. Speeches and Statements
C. Research Studies
D. Parliamentary Reports

A. Official Documents and Declarations

I. The CFE Treaty

1. The CFE Agreement of 1990

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed during the CSCE Summit in Paris on November 19th, 1990 by 22 states. These were divided into two groups: the NATO group, composed of 16 members, and the Group of Six, which encompassed the former Warsaw Pact states. 

The objectives of the Treaty were to preclude the capability for launching surprise attacks or large-scale offensive operations and the creation of balanced conventional forces through the establishment of lower levels of conventional equipment. To this aim, limits were set on specified military equipment - referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE) - in the Atlantic-to-the-Urals Zone (ATTU). The Treaty foresaw phased national reductions to be completed by November 1995. Notably, a solid verification and information exchange was agreed upon. 

It was agreed upon that neither group of states may have more than 20,000 tanks, 20,000 artillery pieces, 30,000 armoured combat vehicles (ACVs), 6,800 combat aircraft 2,000 attack helicopters. The division of equipment entitlements among the eight European successor states was regulated by the Tashkent Agreement, signed in 1992. 

Also, the treaty sets equal ceilings on equipment that may be held in active units, and establishes that the proportion of armaments that can be held by any one country may not surpass one third of the total for all countries. Finally, the treaty was complemented by the CFE-1A Agreement of July 10th, 1992, a political declaration limiting the conventional armed forces of each country in the CFE area. 

The first CFE Review Conference took place in May 1996. See the Final Document
In general, compliance with the CFE Treaty has been smooth. See the assessment of compliance and adherence to CFE in the Report submitted to the US Congress on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control Agreements of 1998. 

2. The Adaptation of the CFE Treaty

In an attempt to adapt the Treaty to the new security environment, the State Parties signed an Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty during the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul. 

The main changes brought about by the new treaty were: 
(1) the agreement on a national ceiling for all State Parties, - replacing the previous group ceilings - and (2) the establishment of territorial ceilings for the ground-based weapons. Also, it was decided that a state party can only increase its ceiling if other states' parties assume corresponding reductions. Nevertheless, the original treaty remains in effect until all 30 states' parties ratify the adaptation agreement. A political declaration, the Final Act, was agreed to on the same occasion.  

For more information on CFE adaptation, see HSFK site

II. The Question of the Flank Agreement and the Russian Military Bases 

The CFE application area is divided into four subzones, one of which covers the northern and southern extremes, and which is called the flank zone. The flank zone comprises of territory belonging to Russia, Norway, Iceland, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. Due to its major strategic importance, this area was made subject to specific limitations. 

Compliance with the treaty in the southern flank zone has proved contentious. While Russia is currently abiding by its overall CFE Treaty limits, it is deploying tanks and ACVs above sub-limits in the flank zone. 
After calling for a review of the limits set for the flank zone in 1993, Russia eventually requested the temporary suspension of the ceilings. When the limits took effect in November 1995, Russian equipment in the Treaty's flank zone was in excess of the permitted levels. Russia's repeated delays in complying to the flank zone limitations - which took place against the background of the first Chechen war and NATO enlargement - provoked a serious dispute with NATO, who was unwilling to amend the treaty. The problem was solved by the signing of the Flank Agreement in November 1995, which reduced the geographic area of the flank zone and removed some Russian districts. In exchange, Russia committed to freeze and later reduce forces within the original flank zone. In November 1999, CFE-parties allowed Russia even more ACVs inside the flank zone, but Moscow has yet to comply with this even larger limit. 

Russia claims that it is the military campaign in Chechnya which prevents it from complying with its Treaty obligations, and assures that limits will be respected once the campaign has ended. 

1. Russian Military Presence in Georgia

In the Final Act agreed upon at the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul, Russia agreed in a joint statement with Georgia to withdraw part of its military equipment from bases located on Georgian territory. Russia undertook to disband the military bases of Gudauta and Vaziani by 1 July 2001, while Georgia granted Russia the right to basic temporary deployment at the bases at Batumi and Akhalkalaki. 
Click here for the Joint Statement by the Foreign and Defence Ministries of the Russian Federation from August 2000. 
Click here for the Foreign Policy Concept of Georgia on CFE & Russia

While the Vaziani base was closed on time, withdrawal from the Gudauta base in Abkhazia was not fully completed within the agreed upon time frame. According to official Russian sources, the main hurdles were the refusal of Abkhaz authorities to allow for the presence of international observers, as well as widespread local opposition to the operation. While the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the de facto dismantling of Gudauta on 9 November 2001, the Georgian MFA still claims the non-fulfillment of the agreements by the Russian side.

For more information on the conflict in Abkazia, see AKUF site (in German)

 Click here for 

Condemnation of this failure by Georgian authorities has been widespread. See 

For the position of Russia, see a declaration by B. Malakhov, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Dismantling of Russian Base in Gudauta, August 20th, 2001. 
A timetable for the withdrawal from the other two remaining Russian bases in Georgia, Batumi and Akhalkalaki, is being negotiated. 

2. Russian Military Presence in Moldova

After a cease-fire signed in 1992 had virtually ended fighting in the separatist, Russian populated Moldovan territory of Transdnistria, a peacekeeping force which included a Russian presence was deployed in the region. Russia and Moldova signed an agreement in October 1994 calling for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the province within three years. Because the agreement linked the withdrawal of Russian troops to the achievement of a political solution to the conflict, Transdnistrian authorities walked out of the negotiations. The Russian Duma has still not ratified the agreement. 

More information on Transdnistria in the US Library of Congress

 The Moldovan Constitution, approved in the same year, establishes the permanent neutrality of the country and explicitly forbids the presence foreign troops on its territory. 
Following Russia's failure to meet the deadline, both parties reached an agreement which was incorporated into the OSCE Final Act of November 1999. Russia committed to dispose of all of its TLE by the end of 2001 and to withdraw its military bases from Transdnistria by the end of 2002. Since then, Moldova has repeatedly expressed a desire for the withdrawal of Russian troops. 
Read the references to The Foreign Policy Guidelines for the period 1998-2000 of Moldova. 
Read also following press releases of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 

The question of the Russian military bases abroad is further complicated by Russian, US and NATO conditions often linking the CFE process to the wider security framework.
For an evaluation of the situation as of April 2002, see: Statement of a member of the US misssion to the OSCE, April 25th, 2002 

NATO indicated that they will not ratify the adaptation agreement until Russia complies with prescribed weapons limits. See the excerpts of NATO's Ministerial Meeting, 15 December 1999 

This approach had been previously adopted by US President Clinton on a national basis, when he stipulated that he would not submit the adapted Treaty to the US Senate unless Russia complied with the prescribed weapons limits. See the relevant excerpt of the US Department of Defence's strategy paper Strengthening Transatlantic Security, December 2000 

This attitude was also reflected - albeit in a very discrete manner - in the Final Document of the Second Review Conference on CFE and CFE 1, June 1st, 2001. 

Russia's position is that the entry into force of the adapted CFE Treaty should not be delayed. Moscow also warns that State Parties should refrain from actions which it considers bound to upset the strategic stability on the European continent - in particular, the admission of the Baltic states into NATO. Click here for a MFA's press release On the second Conference on Review of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, June 5th, 2001 (also available in pdf). Within the context of the controversial deployment of a US Missile Defence system, officials from the Russian Ministry of Defence have warned that a unilateral abandonment of the Anti- Ballistic Missile Defence Treaty by the US could result in a Russian withdrawl from all arms control treaties, including CFE. 

B. Speeches

C. Research Studies

D. Parliamentary Reports



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