Russian Federation Formally Withdraws from Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe

According to Russian state-owned media, the Russian Federation has completed preparations to completely withdraw from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). The announcement on Ria Novosti reads below:

“Moscow finally completed the procedure for withdrawing from the CFE Treaty at midnight, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.”

The treaty was negotiated during the Cold War to limit the number of conventional military supplies between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. It called for the limit of the following supply totals on each side:

  • 20,000 tanks;
  • 20,000 artillery pieces;
  • 30,000 armored combat vehicles (ACVs);
  • 6,800 combat aircraft; and
  • 2,000 attack helicopters.

It further stipulated that active duty units could not have more than the following in single units as to limit the concentration of the above supplies in one location:

  • 16,500 tanks;
  • 17,000 artillery pieces; and
  • 27,300 armored combat vehicles (ACVs);

Further more, the treaty stipulated that all of these supplies could not be concentrated in one country such as Poland or Norway in order to also limit the concentration of forces.

It is important to note that the treaty has been effectively dead since 2007 when President Putin announced the Russian Federation would not participate due to NATO expansion in Europe. He specifically withdrew over U.S. intent to create military bases in Romania and Bulgaria. By this time, both parties completed and verified by inspection the destruction or conversion of over 52,000 battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. In addition, they conducted/accepted over 4,000 intrusive on-site inspections of military units/installations, and of specified areas. In 2015, Putin doubled down that the treaty was dead, but did not withdraw his country from it fully.

NATO mostly fulfilled its obligations by destroying its oldest equipment. However, as of 2019, several former Soviet Republics were still in violation of the treaty, specifically Azerbaijan which had:

  • 300 battle tanks in excess of Azerbaijan’s limit of 220 battle tanks
  • more than 160 armored combat vehicles (ACV) in excess of Azerbaijan’s limit of 220 ACVs
  • over 670 artillery pieces in excess of Azerbaijan’s limit of 285 artillery pieces
  • over 55 attack helicopters in excess of Azerbaijan’s limit of 50 attack helicopters

In a sick twist of irony, in 2019 Armenia destroyed more than 20 APCs in order to come back into compliance, one year before Azerbaijan initiated the 2020 war which severely beat conventional Armenian forces.

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Ethan Alun
Ethan Alun
A United States Naval Academy and American Military University Alumni, Ethan covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.
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