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  Monday, November 23, 2020
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Russia is ready to start talks on an amended Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty this autumn
Russia is ready to start talks on an amended Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty this autumn, and will continue to honor its provisions until the deadline set by a presidential decree, a Russian diplomat said Friday. Late last week, President Vladimir Putin imposed a moratorium on Russia's observance of the CFE Treaty and related agreements, citing the "extraordinary circumstances concerning Russia's security that require emergency measures," and set a 150-day deadline for the West to ratify it. "Our partners have not yet developed a realistic approach [toward the CFE], but I hope it will happen by autumn and we will begin serious work," said Anton Mazur, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for conventional arms control. The diplomat said Russia continued to hold consultations on the ratification of the amended treaty by all NATO member countries. The CFE Treaty was amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities, and has so far only been ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Mazur said Russia would continue fulfilling all of its CFE-related obligations until it suspends its participation in the treaty. "We will fulfill all of our commitments assumed under the treaty until December 12, 2007," the official said. Moscow considers the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 to reduce conventional military forces on the continent, outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union or the recent NATO expansion. Moldova and Georgia have refused to ratify the treaty until Russia withdraws its troops from their territories. Russia maintains a peacekeeping contingent in Georgia and a battalion guarding ex-Soviet ammunition depots in the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr in Moldova. NATO countries have insisted on Russia's withdrawal from Transdnestr and other post-Soviet regions as a condition for their ratifying the CFE Treaty. NATO's reluctance to ratify the re-drafted pact is a key source of tension between Russia and the Western security alliance.
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