MOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to start in-depth discussions on a new Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) if the EU does not link it to political issues, Russia’s envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said on Thursday.
The 1990 CFE Treaty limits the number of conventional heavy weapons deployed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Urals mountains.
“If the focus is on arms control, not some political problems, there are chances that a substantive discussion could begin on what kind of arms control is needed today,” he said.
The OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) is by far the most appropriate platform for that discussion, he added.
“The ball is now in the European court. We are waiting for signals from our European partners showing their interest in this matter,” Grushko said.
Russia has accused NATO of increasing armed forces and weaponry disparity in Europe, while demanding Moscow fulfils its obligations under the CFE Treaty, specifically demanding that Moscow recognize Georgia's sovereignty over its pre-2008 borders as a precondition for talks.
In 2007 Russia suspended implementation of the key post-Cold War arms control treaty over US plans to station elements of a missile defense system in Europe, specifically Poland and the Czech Republic, and NATO’s failure to ratify its revised 1999 version.
The Treaty was revised in 1999 in Istanbul but the amended version never entered into force because of disagreement about Russian military presence in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia and the Transndestr region of Moldova.
The Russian side announced a “postponement” of its implementation of the Treaty in December 2007, while the NATO countries continue to implement its provisions.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.