NYT April 27, 2007
Putin to Suspend Pact With NATO
By C. J. CHIVERS and MARK LANDLER
MOSCOW, April 26 — President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the cold war, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO and the Kremlin.
The announcement, made in Mr. Putin’s annual address to Parliament, underscored the Kremlin’s anger at the United States for proposing a new missile defense system in Europe, which the Bush administration insists is meant to counter potential threats from North Korea and Iran.
Mr. Putin suggested that Russia would use its future compliance with the treaty as a bargaining point in that disagreement with the United States.
The new standoff also demonstrated the Kremlin’s lingering frustration over NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders and with the treaties negotiated in the 1990s when Russia, still staggering through its post-Soviet woes, was much weaker and less assertive on the world stage than it is today.
Although Mr. Putin did not mention it on Thursday, Russia is angry that in 2001 the Bush administration unilaterally pulled out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.
On Monday, Mr. Putin’s defense minister, Anatoly E. Serdyukov, rejected an offer from the visiting American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, to share antimissile technology, which had been intended as a way to assuage Moscow’s opposition to Washington’s missile defense plan.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in Oslo at a gathering of diplomats from NATO countries, reacted coldly to Mr. Putin’s speech.
“These are treaty obligations, and everyone is expected to live up to treaty obligations,” she said.
Ms. Rice also dismissed Russian concerns that introducing new military technology to Europe could upset the balance of forces there and set off an escalation that could lead to a new cold war. She called such claims “purely ludicrous” and said the scale of the proposed missile defense system was obviously far too small to defend against the Russian nuclear arsenal.
Though the step by Mr. Putin was incremental, it was highly symbolic and reminiscent of brinkmanship in the cold war.
The agreement in question, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, known by the initials C.F.E., was signed in 1990 by the members of NATO and of the Warsaw Pact, including Russia.
It required the reduction and relocation of much of the main battle equipment then located along the East-West dividing lines, including tanks, artillery pieces, armored vehicles and attack aircraft. It also established an inspection regime.
Under the treaty ... full text