WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Tuesday it will stop sharing data with Russia under a treaty that limits conventional forces in Europe, saying it was doing so four years after Moscow halted its participation in the pact.
The 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) limits the number of battle tanks, heavy artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia’s Ural mountains.
In announcing the decision, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States still hoped to persuade Russia to come back to the treaty but Washington was no longer willing to share information without Moscow reciprocating.
Former President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s participation in the treaty in 2007.
“What this means specifically is that the U.S. will not accept Russian inspections of our bases under the CFE, and we will also not provide Russia with the annual notifications and military data called for in the treaty,” Nuland said.
She said the United States expected most, if not all, U.S. and NATO allies in the 30-nation agreement to do the same.
However, she stressed that the United States had not given up on the treaty entirely. She said Washington would continue to share data with other nations in the treaty and hoped that Russia would ultimately return to the agreement.
“We are not giving up on conventional arms control nor are we giving up on the possibility of saving and modernizing the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty,” she said.
“We are simply saying that at this stage, after four years of non-Russian implementation ... we think that it’s important to take some countermeasures vis-a-vis Russia.”
The original CFE treaty was negotiated among 22 member states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. At the time it was signed in November 1990, a goal was to replace military confrontation with a new pattern of security relations.
It also was to establish a secure and stable balance of conventional armed forces in Europe at reduced levels.
The treaty was updated in November 1999 in Istanbul with leaders of 30 nations setting limits on conventional forces on a national basis instead of the bloc-to-bloc totals set in the 1990 document.
Russia’s 2007 suspension of aspects of the CFE was a response to the failure of NATO states to ratify the 1999 adapted treaty. That itself was a result of earlier disputes with Russia over its military deployments in Moldova and Georgia, according to the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
In an analysis, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty helped solidify the end of the Cold War, slashing armies and equipment on both sides “and effectively eliminated the possibility of a blitzkrieg-style land attack across the East-West frontier.”
Kimball said the CFE treaty’s future was now “in serious doubt.”
“The task now for the United States, Russia, and other key European states is to explore options for a new post-CFE security architecture that provides some of the same benefits that CFE provided, including information about conventional force deployments and movements and updated limits, or at least new guidelines, on those military deployments,” he wrote.
Editing by Christopher Wilson