Published: March 11, 2015
“Russia’s definite rejection of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe proves that Russia’s aim is to destabilise the essential order in the entire Europe,” says the expert, Michał Baranowski, Director at the Warsaw branch of the think tank German Marshall Fund.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia had definitely ended its participation in the CFE Treaty. The treaty was signed in 1990 and was considered a “cornerstone of the European security.” The treaty established limits on levels of arms and conventional armed forces in Europe. In 2007 Russia announced its suspension from the implementation of the Treaty. On March 10, 2015, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, confirmed that Kremlin was definitely withdrawing from the treaty and had no intention of its re-implementation.
Mikhail Ulyanov, director of arms control in Russian Foreign Ministry went a step further when, speaking to Interfax agency, he stated that Russia might revise other areas of its collaboration with the West regarding arms control and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. He added that although at present there are no nuclear weapons in Kremlin, Russia has a right to situate them there.
Mr. Baranowski says that these declarations from Russian officials constitute a part of a much wider and threatening strategy of Kremlin.
“It provides another proof that Russia is trying to destabilise not only the entire post-Cold War security order in Europe, but also any agreements signed during the Cold War, as their actions in Kremlin and against eastern Ukraine demonstrate,” says Mr. Baranowski, referring to the Helsinki Accords signed 40 years ago. He adds that CFE Treaty is not the only threatened agreement on arms control. For the last few months Washington has been raising concerns over Moscow’s breaching another contract, the Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF).
“This is especially worrying for Poland, as it concentrates the nuclear threat on our region,” says Mr. Baranowski.
Mr. Baranowski states that destabilising the legal basis of the European security system aims at changing the international order and balance of power. “Disorder means that countries with the strongest military powers will make decisions and exert influence over others, and that is exactly what Russia wants,” he says.
The key point is the response Russia will get from the West. Mr. Baranowski thinks that both Europe and USA have so far reacted tactically to Moscow’s actions, whereas a long-term approach is required, particularly considering the economic advantage over Russia. The issue is the will to use it. „The argument is only just starting whereas a strategy is required now,” explains the expert.