On 7 November, Russia completed the internal legal process of fully withdrawing from the Convention on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Shortly thereafter, NATO announced a complete cessation of compliance with the treaty. In both name and substance, the disarmament and arms control process in Europe has collapsed.
The CFE was signed in 1990 between the US and NATO along with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact member states, officially effective from 1992, with its contents amended in 1996 – a time when the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact The treaty was broken.
The main content of the CFE is to limit the concentration of military forces and heavy weapons in the border area between the two sides and exchange information on changes in military deployment in this area. The CFE also aims to build and enhance mutual trust and transparency in military activities to reduce the risk of conflict.
Ministers from NATO member states attended the NATO Cyber Defense Conference in Berlin-Germany on 9 November. Photo: Reuters
In fact, there are two versions of the CFE and NATO is prepared to implement only the 1990 version. Because of this action by NATO, it can be seen that as early as 1996 there was a potential risk that the CFE would be cancelled. Russia stopped implementing the CFE in 2007 and offered to withdraw from the treaty in 2015. In June, Russia initiated an internal legal process to withdraw from the CFE.
The decisive push that moved the CFE from “half-alive” to “completely dead” status was the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There are other factors such as continued NATO expansion, the US and NATO being committed to supporting Ukraine financially and militarily to the end, Russia and NATO opposing each other and ultimately the process of disarmament and arms control. Nuclear weapons between Russia and America have also been completely broken. Seen this way, there can be no other outcome than the CFE being wiped out.
Not only Russia and NATO, but many European countries are also participating in the CFE. But once both Russia and NATO implement it, the real impact of the CFE on security in Europe will be very small, if not negligible.
The current political, military and security situation as well as relations between the countries of Europe have fundamentally changed compared to 1990 and 1996, changes so profound that the CFE in both versions has become obsolete.
Relations between Russia and NATO are currently so tense and bitterly hostile that all signed cooperation or mutually binding agreements on military and security issues, including disarmament, are no longer possible. Full compliance and enforcement.
Russia also withdrew its ratification of the UN Treaty on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban (CTBT), creating a situation of “what happens to the US, what happens to Russia”. In such a direction, it is too late for Russia and NATO to end the CFE.
This result confirms three trends in the development of the political and security situation in Europe. First, relations between NATO and Russia remain tense and confrontational. Second, the severity and persistence of the conflict in Ukraine has increased. Third, Europe continues to be insecure and unstable.