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Interview with Aleksandr Sharavin

Aleksandr Sharavin, Director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, commented on Russia's decision to suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

Russia Today: NATO and EU insist the CFE treaty is vital for European security. Why haven't they ratified it then?

A.S.: Obviously, our western partners were satisfied as they were with Russia having already ratified the treaty and keeping to its obligations under it. However it couldn’t go on forever, because Russia’s interest is to see all member states being in equal conditions. But after the adaptation of the treaty several states have joined NATO – and forgone joining the treaty. I mean Slovakia and Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. They are not subject to this treaty, so the conditions are not really equal.

Our western partners say they cannot ratify CFE treaty since Russia doesn’t abide to the Istanbul accords considering withdrawal of its troops from Georgia and Moldova. But the case is Russia has almost finished the withdrawal – the small units still stationed there cannot be called serious military forces. Also the Istanbul commitments were in no way legally tied with CFE treaty. Our western partners failed to fulfil some of their commitments too. Meanwhile the promises given by Russian president at that time were never subject to a ratification procedure – it’s not a less important document. So the move made by Russia today is fully justified.

RT: The treaty sets limitation on the strength of troops from the Atlantic Ocean to the Urals. Doesn’t this prevent U.S. troops from being deployed nearer to Russia?

A.S.: Russia is certainly concerned not only about the new NATO members, who didn’t join CFE treaty, but also about new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania. They could significantly alter the balance. My opinion is that the arithmetical balance is irrelevant. It’s equality of rights that matters and Russia cannot allow to be discriminated. Russia does want transparency. Russia does want information exchange and the right to make inspections. But we can’t stay calm over unilateral acts. That’s why Russia decided to put a moratorium on CFE treaty.

RT: What is likely to be the future of the treaty now that Russia has sent an unambiguous signal to its western partners?

A.S.: I really hope that this move is not taken as a step towards a confrontation. I hope the answer will not be in that direction. Russia has ratified the treaty, Russia has been fulfilling it. So I believe our western partners should ratify it. Furthermore, I think they should hold negotiations with Russia and other members of the treaty to make further adaptations. A long time has passed since 1999, and political and military situation has changed since then. So the treaty needs further adaptation.

RT: So, should we be expecting some talks then?

A.S.: I hope they won’t be like the ones in Vienna. Yes, we need another round of talks.