NATO has declared that its involvement in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) will be halted after Russia pulled out of the agreement, denouncing it as a “defunct mechanism” amid the ongoing conflict with the West.
Established in 1990 during the final stages of the Cold War, the CFE Treaty imposed restrictions on the number of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, helicopters, and aircraft stationed in Europe, with participation from both the Soviet bloc and NATO members.
Russia argued that while the deal initially contributed to stabilizing the security framework in Europe, the US-led military alliance later openly circumvented the limitations, particularly by admitting new members. The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed to NATO’s expansion as a primary reason for withdrawing from the CFE mechanisms in 2015, labeling them “outdated.” President Vladimir Putin sealed the departure from the CFE by signing a law this spring, with the withdrawal becoming official on Tuesday.
In response, NATO condemned Moscow’s decision, characterizing it as “the latest in a series of actions that systematically undermine Euro-Atlantic security.” The alliance stated that given Russia’s exit, complying with the CFE would be “unsustainable.” Consequently, all 31 member states agreed to suspend the CFE Treaty’s operation for as long as necessary.
Additionally, NATO emphasized its dedication to reducing military risks, avoiding misunderstandings and conflicts, and establishing an effective framework for conventional arms control, all in consideration of the current security environment. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan supported the suspension, asserting that it will “strengthen the alliance’s deterrence and defense capacity by removing restrictions that impact planning, deployments, and exercises.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, dismissed the prospect of negotiating a new arms control agreement with NATO, contending that the alliance is unwilling to engage constructively. The ministry maintained that only a shift in the West’s approach would allow for the revival of meaningful dialogue aimed at shaping a new European security system.
In summary, NATO’s decision to suspend its participation in the CFE Treaty in response to Russia’s withdrawal represents a significant development in the ongoing discord between Moscow and the West. The maneuver is to be perceived as a means of bolstering the alliance’s deterrence capability, all the while underscoring the current impasse in efforts toward renegotiating an alternative arms control arrangement with Russia. As such, the situation reflects the broader geopolitical tensions and the complex interplay of security interests in Europe and beyond.