Tags: Putin | Confident | Duma | Will | Ratify | Revised | CFE

Putin Confident Duma Will Ratify Revised CFE Treaty

Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM

"We have almost finished preparations to submit that document for ratification to the State Duma. We do not doubt that it will win the deputies' support," Putin said in a written statement, released by his press service Sunday.

Putin's statement marked the 10th anniversary of the original CFE treaty signing in Paris in 1990.

The Russian leader praised the role the treaty has played in providing security on the continent over the last decade.

"For the first time in the history of the European continent, an efficient control over conventional arms had been established, providing also an unprecedented openness in military affairs," said Putin.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union and disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, Russia had begun to seek to update the 1990 accord as it faced growing pro-Western sentiment among its former Soviet partners. At the end of the 90s, Moscow feared NATO's further eastward expansion could threaten ethnic-Russian minority in the Baltic states and other NATO-leaning nations.

In November 1999, the agreement to revise the treaty was signed at the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) Summit in Istanbul. The revision focuses mainly on limiting the number of battle tanks, artillery pieces, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters that individual countries can possess.

"I am convinced that the upcoming endorsement of the revised CFE treaty will strengthen its vitality and will make the treaty a working instrument, capable of ensuring the continental security in the 21st century," Putin said. "There is no reason to delay the ratification of the revised accord. We firmly stand on that."

According to last year's revision, Russia also had to reduce its military presence on both northern and southern flanks of the country's borders. This requirement included withdrawals of Russian troops and weapons from the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Russian troops had remained there after the independence-minded republics broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, triggering civil wars in the Georgian autonomous province of Abkhazia and Moldova's predominantly Russian-populated Trans-Dniester region.

"The problems connected with the Russian forces' withdrawal from Georgian and Trans-Dniester territories are being solved," said Putin.

After several rounds of talks this year, Moscow and Tbilisi negotiated a Russian pullout of arms and personnel from the Vaziani base, near the Georgian capital.

Bilateral talks are under way to end Russia's military presence at another base in the Abkhazian town of Gudauta. The Trans-Dniester pullout is being negotiated by former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, whom Putin appointed his special envoy to Moldova.

However, the Kremlin's quest to quell armed rebellion in the breakaway republic of Chechnya has disrupted the balance sought by the revision of the CFE treaty. In September 1999, the government of then Prime Minister Putin decided to send troops to the rebellious province, violating the flank limitation in the south.

During his trip to the Norwegian capital of Oslo in early November 1999, Putin said that Moscow had no intention of violating the accord and would restore the balance as soon as the armed conflict with Chechen terrorists was over.

At last year's OSCE summit in Istanbul, former President Boris Yeltsin resolutely rejected the Western criticism regarding deployment of extra forces and weapons in Chechnya, noting that Moscow would act as it saw fit and would brook no outside interference into its internal affairs.

Yeltsin's defiant stance in Istanbul strained relations between Moscow and Western OSCE members, but Putin's administration sought to ease the conflict by repeatedly asserting that Moscow's commitment in Chechnya was of temporary nature and would be brought to an end as soon as law and order were fully restored in the whole territory of the war-torn republic.

On Sunday, Putin thanked the Western leaders for their understanding of Russia's need to deploy extra forces, vowing to redeploy them at their designated locations immediately after the end of the anti-terrorist campaign.

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We have almost finished preparations to submit that document for ratification to the State Duma. We do not doubt that it will win the deputies' support, Putin said in a written statement, released by his press service Sunday. Putin's statement marked the 10th anniversary...
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