Interview with Ivan Safranchuk

Ivan Safranchuk, a political analyst from the World Security Institute gave RT an in-depth look at the reasons for the Russian moratorium on the Conventional Arms Treaty in Europe, its consequences, and the reaction of the West.

Russia Today: How relevant is this treaty today, in 2007? How would you consider it: as a military agreement or sort of a bargaining chip between the West and Russia?

Ivan Safranchuk: Of course it is an agreement on forces, on military forces in Europe and that is why it is a military agreement, although it does not make a lot of sense in military terms only because the actual ceilings of armaments, as they exist, are much lower than it is allowed in the treaty. In this sense, it is very much unique a treaty that allows increasing forces, rather than limits them. But at the same time, this treaty is important in couse of confidence-building measures because every party of the treaty is obligated to inform others on movements of forces and on exercises. And that creates a field of confidence-building measures. But of course, as just a military agreement, the treaty is outdated and that is why Russia was proposing to update the treaty, to negotiate some parts of the treaty during the conference which took place one month ago on Russian request.

RT: Let us get to this recent Russian moratorium on this treaty. What is it in you opinion, is this a response to the anti-missile shield the U.S. are willing to build, or to the NATO members unwillingness to ratify the agreement?

I.S.: I think the latter. NATO countries do not want to ratify it. They say that they will not ratify it until Russia withdraws troops from Georgia and Transdniester, which is not really a legally existing linkage. So Russia does not admit this linkage and that is why NATO countries do not ratify it. So I think that was the reason for Russia to impose this moratorium. It is a very strange situation when Russia ratified it and fully implements it while all others say “we implement it but we don't ratify it”. It is not an obligation for NATO countries, it is just a good-will measure. And Russia was asking for full ratification for many years and it looks like now the patience has just been exhausted.

RT: Finally, getting back to the recent statements of Russia, for instance. What do you think: is the treaty dead, is this finished, or can it be brought back to life?

I.S.: I think that it will take a lot of political will to put some life into this treaty. Last month, there was a conference to review the treaty which was conducted on the request of Russia, and the NATO countries rejected all the Russian proposals. That is why, I think, it would be very difficult for them to return now to the Russian proposals because it will look as if they do this under Russian pressure. That is why I think it is very likely, from my point of view, that this treaty will not be in force and will never be in force, although as far as I understand the Russian position, it exactly tries to bring this treaty into force, which means to make NATO countries ratify it.