Russia’s final withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) took effect today/Tuesday. In response, the Benelux countries announced in a joint statement on Tuesday that they, together with other NATO allies, are suspending the operation of the treaty. “This suspension is reversible and is aimed at preserving the current arms control architecture,” the statement said.
The CFE Treaty provides for limits on conventional heavy weapons, combined with a notification and verification regime. The treaty was concluded in 1990 between the then NATO member states and the former Warsaw Pact members. Countries such as Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Kazakhstan are also signatories.
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Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg condemn the Russian decision to withdraw from a treaty that, according to the Benelux countries, is “a cornerstone of the European security architecture”. “The Russian withdrawal comes at a time when Russia is waging an unprovoked, illegal and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. These Russian actions are once again leading to a further deterioration of the broader security architecture in Europe. (…) We cannot accept a situation where NATO allies remain committed to implementing the Treaty while Russia has withdrawn from it.”
The three countries say they remain “firmly committed to conventional arms control as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, based on basic principles such as reciprocity, transparency and host country consent.”