Saturday, July 14, 2007

Russia suspends participation in key arms pact

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia suspended its participation in a key pact limiting military forces in Europe on Saturday, amid deteriorating relations with the West on a range of fronts.
The Kremlin said in a statement President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree suspending Russia's role in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, due to questions of "national security".
The pact was adopted in 1990 to limit the number of tanks, heavy artillery and combat aircraft deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia's Ural mountains.
Russia has accused the West of failing to ratify an amended version signed in 1999 to take into account the new post-Cold War situation. Talks last month with NATO states ended without progress.
A NATO spokesman said on Saturday of the Russian suspension: "If this is confirmed the Secretary General very much regrets this decision. The allies consider this treaty to be an important cornerstone of European security."
The differences over the pact are part of broader tensions between Russia and the West.
Relations are strained by disagreements over U.S. plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe, proposed independence for Serbia's Kosovo province and Moscow's energy policies.
A source of friction over the CFE treaty is NATO's insistence on preserving "flanking arrangements" which ban large concentrations of forces and materiel near some borders.
Russia objects to that provision because it limits Russian troop movements within Russian territory, even though Moscow says its border areas have become more unstable since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
Russia also wants cuts in NATO troop levels in outlying regions to reflect the accession to the alliance of eastern European states bordering Russia since 1990.
NATO states have said treaty changes depend on Russia withdrawing troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia, but Russia rejects any link between the two issues.
MI6 need to assassinate that fascist warmonger Putin before he is able to hold the world hostage.

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