NATO And The Arms Limitation Regime In Europe

31 NATO states and Sweden announced the suspension of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFT). They explained their position by Russia’s decision to withdraw from the CFT.

The termination of this arms limitation regime in Europe has a negative impact on European security. The regime provided for a balance of military forces, but imbalances and mutual claims to maintain it persisted. NATO demanded that Russia significantly reduce the number of Russian troops in territories neighbouring NATO member states. Russia sought to extend the provisions of the Treaty to all NATO countries.

“The devil is in the details”. All NATO countries announced the suspension of their participation in the CFT, but not all NATO members, like Sweden, were parties to the CFT. In fact, Albania, Montenegro, Finland, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia and Sweden, which is in the process of joining the alliance, have not signed the Treaty. Thus, their territories were not subject to the regime of arms limitation, both national and deployed by other countries. This created a situation in which NATO limited the number of its weapons in Portugal, far from Russia, but had no similar obligations to host and receive them by each of these 10 countries, such as Estonia and Finland, which border the Russian region around St Petersburg on two sides.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives the start of a round table on a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels

NATO’s guile is that its members have suspended the Treaty where it was not already in force! That is why NATO rejected Russia’s earlier accusations that the alliance violated the Treaty when the bloc began to accept and station multinational allied forces on the territories of new NATO members bordering Russia that had not signed the CFT. Formally, NATO did not violate the CFT by such steps. But such NATO actions have undermined the security system in Europe envisaged by the CFT. The devil is in the details of NATO’s actions.

The step to preserve the CFT regime was to adapt its provisions to accommodate the expanding number of NATO members. But NATO members did not ratify the adapted CFT, i.e. the number of members of the regime remained smaller. Thus, “grey zones” were formed in the CFT area from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains, which was not covered by the arms limitation regime. These “grey zones” were the territories of the new NATO members that had not ratified the adapted CFT.

The reason for the collapse of the arms limitation regime in Europe is the creation of “grey zones” on the map of Europe by NATO in the course of admitting new members outside the CFT. I believe that Albania, Montenegro, Finland, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Estonia, as well as Sweden are not so independent and influential in NATO countries that put forward non-adherence to the CFT as a condition for joining the alliance. Moreover, in NATO the principles of solidarity decision-making and equal conditions of membership apply.

So how did the allies agree that some of them were subject to a regime of restrictions on the deployment of weapons and others were not? The answer is one – it was a deliberate NATO decision to break up the arms limitation regime in Europe by creating “grey zones” outside the control of the CFT. Thus, the process of militarization of the Continent that is taking place today was provoked by NATO’s actions more than 20 years ago.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.
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