Interview with Vladimir Kulagin
Russia Today: The session of the Russia-NATO Council is underway. Do you think there will be any progress in discussing Russia's proposal on the joint use of the radar station in Gabala?
Vladimir Kulagin: They are supposed to do some useful, preparatory work. Of course, they will not solve all the problems, but they will do the job of Sherpas, breaking ground for more fruitful negotiations between President Putin and President Bush during the upcoming summit in the U.S. next month, in July.
RT: The Conventional Forces in Europe, or the CFE, Treaty is high on the agenda. What are the disagreements over the issue?
V.K.: Of course this is a rather complicated thing, but I’ll try to explain it. The problem is that in 1990, NATO and the Warsaw Pact agreed to sign the CFE Treaty. This treaty was very fruitful, because the sides reduced and destroyed tens of thousand of heavy weapons – tanks, helicopters, personnel carriers, artillery pieces. It was very valuable. In 1999, when the Warsaw Pact already did not exist, all the parties to the treaty, 30 states, decided to adopt it in compliance with new circumstances. And it was adopted during the Istanbul summit of The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. It was signed, but two statements were attached to the final act- the Russian-Georgian statement, and the Russian- Moldavian one. In these statements, Russia promised to withdraw heavy weapons from four bases in Georgia and from a base in the Transdniester region. As for Georgia – we are completing this today. But the Georgian sides suspects that our Gudauta base, on the Abkhazian territory, is being used by the Abkhazian forces and they have heavy equipment there. It can easily be resolved by inviting an inspection there. As for Moldova – it is more difficult, because there are some depots there with weapons, which are outdated and exist from the Second World War. They were not withdrawn. And there is a difficult situation with the separatist movement in Transdniester. Also, there are around 2,000, maybe less, Russian officers and men there. Moldova and NATO demand that Russia withdraw these forces.
RT: Do you think the session that is taking place today will help to resolve the problem?
V.K.: You know, we take this treaty for granted. And the treaty is very useful. It has established the system of verification, inspections, of openness, of trust, of the ways for further reducing armaments in Europe. However, it has somehow happened that it has not been ratified by the western countries, and they demand that Russian forces in Transdniester should be withdrawn, or they offer some compromise there: to have them included into some peacekeeping forces with other forces – Ukrainian or some other. Those forces should be multilateral, they say, not only Russian. And a compromise is possible. It is needed because the treaty should be ratified and modernized even more. I hope the results will be positive.