Russia Pledges CFE Compliance

April 2000

Russian Acting President Vladimir Putin told reporters March 20 that Russia would "gradually" comply with Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty limits capping the tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and artillery that Russia can deploy in its flank regions, which encompass the northern and southern regions of Russia that border Europe. Moscow's military offensive in Chechnya has magnified Russia's non-compliance with revised flank limits that entered into force May 31, 1999, though Russia remains in compliance with overall treaty limits.

Putin's statement reaffirms a March 3 Russian statement at the Vienna-based Joint Consultative Group (JCG), the treaty's implementing body, that Moscow would meet flank limits of 1,300 tanks, 2,140 ACVs, and 1,680 artillery as the situation in Chechnya stabilizes. These weapons levels represent the more lenient limits set forth in a November 1999 CFE Treaty adaptation agreement, rather than the existing flank limits. None of the 30 CFE states-parties has ratified the adaptation agreement, which replaces the Cold War-era treaty's bloc and zone limits with national and territorial ceilings.

Last fall, President Clinton said he would submit the agreement to the Senate only after Russia complies with adapted treaty limits. NATO, in a December 1999 statement, cautioned that entry into force of an adapted treaty "can only be envisaged in the context of compliance by all States Parties with the Treaty's limitations."

No official adapted treaty text exists, but a U.S. official said producing one was on the JCG agenda. The official would not comment further. Russia's offensive in Chechnya, as well as Moscow's pledges to withdraw weaponry from Moldova and Georgia, have been the main topics of JCG discussion this year.