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– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
CFE Parties Outline Adapted Treaty; Limits to Allow NATO Growth
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Wade Boese

DESPITE MOSCOW'S anger at NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia, as well as continued opposition to NATO expansion, Russia joined the United States and the 28 other states-parties to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on March 30 in signing a preliminary agreement for adapting the Cold War-era treaty to the current security environment. The agreement is not legally binding, but will guide negotiations within the Vienna-based Joint Consultative Group (JCG)—the treaty's implementing body—for replacing the treaty's bloc-to-bloc structure with a system of national and territorial limits.

Though both Moscow and Washington welcomed the agreement, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement cautioned that the "decision does not cover the entire spectrum of problems of adaptation." Russia, which has sought through CFE adaptation to blunt some of the ill effects of NATO expansion, had demanded that talks conclude before the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland formally joined NATO (which occurred March 12). The adaptation negotiations, on-going since January 1997, are now expected to be wrapped up by November.

Signed in 1990, the CFE Treaty capped the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters—referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE)—that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. To prevent conventional force buildups in the center of Europe, the treaty employed a concentric zone structure that permitted larger TLE deployments the farther one moved away from the fault line between the two alliances.

Under an adapted treaty, there will be 30 separate national limits, each covering all five TLE categories, rather than two balanced bloc limits. Each country will also have a territorial ceiling capping the total amount of ground TLE, both national and foreign, allowed within its borders. For countries in the flank zone—created to limit the amount of ground TLE in the northern and southern flanks of Europe—territorial ceilings will be set equal to national ceilings. Therefore, if any flank country wants foreign forces on its territory, its actual TLE holdings must be lower than its national limits by at least an amount equivalant to the foreign TLE. A Russian proposal for territorial ceilings on combat aircraft and attack helicopters failed, as NATO argued that such equipment is too mobile to be verified on a territorial basis.

As part of the March 30 accord, all CFE parties agreed to prospective national limits except Azerbaijan, which claimed it was unable to declare such limits at this time. The sum of the proposed national limits for NATO's 19 members is lower than the their current entitlements (roughly 80,000 compared to 89,026) but much higher than their actual holdings of 64,091. Therefore, NATO will not have to remove or destroy TLE to meet the projected limits.

The United States proposed a TLE limit of 7,590, far below its current entitlement of 13,088 but more than twice its actual TLE holdings of 3,465. Germany undertook the second-largest NATO reduction in TLE (963), while Canada, Greece, Norway, Portugal and Turkey offered no TLE cuts. For its part, Russia proposed a reduction of 385 TLE from its current entitlement of 28,601.

States-parties agreed that territorial ceilings may be exceeded for notified military exercises and peacekeeping missions sanctioned by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. These "basic temporary deployments" cannot exceed 153 tanks, 241 ACVs and 140 artillery pieces in any one country.

Countries outside the treaty's flank zone will in times of crisis be permitted "exceptional temporary deployments" of up to 459 tanks, 723 ACVs and 420 artillery pieces above territorial ceilings. In the event of any temporary deployments larger than the "basic" level, a conference of states-parties will be convened within seven days for the host and stationing countries to explain the deployment. Simultaneous exceptional temporary deployments will be permitted.

Russia, eager to limit the NATO presence in new alliance members, had opposed exceptional temporary deployments, but pledges by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to lower TLE ceilings eased some of Moscow's concerns. By the end of 2003, the territorial ceilings for the three new NATO members (covering both national and foreign equipment) would be smaller than their current national entitlements. In a reciprocal move, Russia pledged not to increase TLE holdings in its northern flank and in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Since CFE's entry into force in 1992, Russia has pressed for larger TLE limits in—or abolition of—the flank zone, where Moscow claims serious security concerns, particularly after the war in Chechnya. According to the March 30th agreement, however, the flank zone will be retained in an adapted treaty.

Though none of the 12 flank countries will be allowed to increase its overall TLE flank limit, Moscow did secure an increase in an ACV sub-limit. In accordance with a May 1996 agreement that will enter into force this May, Russia's ACV total for the original flank zone was set at 3,700, of which 1,380 could be located in a "reduced flank zone." Under the March 30 agreement, that smaller limit is proposed to grow to 2,140. In return, Russia cannot temporarily deploy any ACVs in the reduced flank zone and must reduce Russian TLE stationed in Georgia, as well as withdraw Russian TLE from Moldova.

The agreement emphasizes the need for host country consent for stationing of any foreign TLE. Nevertheless, to guard against unwanted foreign TLE stationing, Moldova renounced its right to temporary deployments.

The CFE Treaty currently limits the amount of TLE that can be deployed in active units, with the remainder confined to Designated Permanent Storage Sites. (Both active and stored TLE count against overall limits.) Under the adaptation agreement, states may shift TLE from storage sites to active units but must eliminate four pieces of TLE for every one moved to active units.

To keep track of all the above activity, the parties agreed to adopt an "enhanced regime of verification and information exchange." Under an adapted treaty, the number of annual inspections that a country must permit on its territory will rise from 15 to 20 percent of its Objects of Verifications—military units and other sites with TLE. The parties will also negotiate specific transparency and verification measures for temporary deployments.

Negotiators at the JCG will return to work on April 12. Outstanding issues include clearing up a discrepancy of approximately 2,100 TLE between the total amount of equipment that the eight successor states to the Soviet Union committed to eliminate and the amount that the Soviet Union would have had to eliminate based on Soviet data at the signature of the treaty. Much of the unclaimed TLE is thought to be derelict or not under government control.