Russia to quit crucial arms treaty?

The U.S. and NATO say they're ready to consider ratifying a Europe-wide arms agreement. The move has been prompted by their concern that Russia could withdraw from the crucial balancing act that's meant to limit the amount of weaponry deployed from the Ur

In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a moratorium on the country's compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

It came after a tense conference in Vienna, where NATO member-states refused to ratify an amended version.

He'd warned of the possibility of withdrawing from the treaty months earlier.

“Our partners are acting improperly. They are using the agreement to build up their system of military bases near our borders. Moreover they are planning to set up elements of an anti-ballistic missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland. This creates a real threat to our country. In connection with this, I consider proclaiming a moratorium on Russia's fulfilment of this treaty,” said Vladimir Putin.

In mid-September at a parliamentary hearing on the issue the Russian State Duma Deputy Konstantin Kosachev said the moratorium on Russia's fulfilment of the treaty was not irreversible.

“We are certain that there is still a chance for improvement on this issue. The ball is in our partners’ court now. They have plenty of time to revise their age-old destructive policy on the treaty and to renew talks with Russia as partners, not adversaries,” said Mr Kosachev.

At the beginning of October a Russian delegation took part in a three-day informal conference on the CFE Treaty initiated by Germany.

It gave no specific results although all parties were eager to find a way out of the deadlock.

Washington says Russian and American delegations will meet again in the next few days to discuss the issue.

If they fail to agree, then Russia's withdrawal from the treaty will come into force on the December 12.

The 1990 landmark arms control agreement established a military balance between NATO members and the former Communist Bloc.

Nine years later in Istanbul it was updated to adapt it to post-cold war realities.

Essentially, the treaty limits the number of tanks, aircraft and other military hardware that can be deployed by countries in Europe.

The adapted treaty, as it's called, cannot come into force until all 30 countries ratify it.

Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus have already done so but NATO members have not.

They say they will, but only after Russia fulfils its obligation to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova.

Russia says it has pulled out its troops from those territories and that the only Russian servicemen there now are peacekeepers.