At the stroke of midnight on November 7, 2023, Russia made a formal exit from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), a move announced by Moscow's Foreign Ministry. This marked the completion of a withdrawal procedure that Russia had suspended in 2007, effectively consigning the CFE to the annals of history.
Quoting the Ministry, the Xinhua news agency reported, "As of 00:00 hours on November 7, 2023, the CFE withdrawal procedure for Russia, which was suspended by our country in 2007, has been completed. Thus, the international legal document has finally gone into history for us."
In the wake of this departure, Russia expressed a dim view of the prospects for forging new arms control agreements with NATO countries. The statement from Russia's Foreign Ministry asserted, "Authorities of NATO member states and the bloc's clients clearly demonstrated their inability to negotiate. As of today, any arms control agreements with them are impossible."
Russia's withdrawal from the CFE also rendered two related agreements obsolete for the nation. The first of these was the Budapest Memorandum of November 3, 1990, which had outlined maximum levels for conventional weaponry and equipment for the six Warsaw Pact countries. The second was the Flank Agreement of May 31, 1996, which had introduced modifications to the original treaty.
The CFE, initially inked in 1990 by NATO members and the six Warsaw Treaty states, officially came into force in 1992. Its fundamental purpose was to establish equilibrium between the two military alliances by imposing restrictions on the accumulation of weapons and military hardware by all participating parties.
In 2007, Russia had declared a moratorium on the CFE, effectively halting its implementation. This decision had culminated on March 11, 2015, when Russia suspended its involvement in the meetings of the Joint Consultative Group on the CFE Treaty, completing the process of suspending its membership. Legally, Russia remained a party to the treaty, with its interests in the Joint Consultative Group being represented by Belarus.
Finally, on May 29, 2023, President Vladimir Putin signed a law denouncing the CFE, which became effective on June 9, 2023, solidifying Russia's formal exit from the treaty.
(With agency inputs)