MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty if ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia are set on the path to NATO membership, Interfax news agency quoted a government official as saying on Friday.
“If Ukraine and Georgia are granted NATO Membership Action Plans (MAP), then the revised CFE treaty will be doomed,” Interfax quoted the unnamed official, whom it described as a senior military diplomat.
“If MAP starts being implemented for Ukraine and Georgia, Russia will not only continue the moratorium it imposed on the CFE, but will ultimately pull out of it.”
Georgia and Ukraine are seeking action plans, which are seen as road maps to eventual membership of NATO, at an alliance summit in December, though diplomats say it is unlikely either will be granted MAP.
Russia, which is fiercely opposed to NATO’s expansion toward its borders, suspended its compliance with the CFE treaty last December but remains a signatory.
Moscow says the treaty, designed to limit battlefield weapons, such as tanks and armoured vehicles, on either side of the old Iron Curtain, is a Cold War relic which gives too much scope for an enlarged NATO to beef up its forces.
Russia’s biggest grievance with the CFE pact is the limit on deployments west of the Ural mountains, while armaments are not capped in new NATO members in eastern Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said at talks in the Estonian capital on Thursday that Ukraine should press ahead with defense and security reforms to gain membership to the alliance.
Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Christian Lowe