A. Official Documents and Declarations
1. The CFE Agreement of 1990
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed during the CSCE Summit in Paris on November 19th, 1990 by 22 states. These were divided into two groups: the NATO group, composed of 16 members, and the Group of Six, which encompassed the former Warsaw Pact states.
The objectives of the Treaty were to preclude the capability for launching surprise attacks or large-scale offensive operations and the creation of balanced conventional forces through the establishment of lower levels of conventional equipment. To this aim, limits were set on specified military equipment - referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE) - in the Atlantic-to-the-Urals Zone (ATTU). The Treaty foresaw phased national reductions to be completed by November 1995. Notably, a solid verification and information exchange was agreed upon.
It was agreed upon that neither group of states may have more than 20,000 tanks, 20,000 artillery pieces, 30,000 armoured combat vehicles (ACVs), 6,800 combat aircraft 2,000 attack helicopters. The division of equipment entitlements among the eight European successor states was regulated by the Tashkent Agreement, signed in 1992.
Also, the treaty sets equal ceilings on equipment that may be held in active units, and establishes that the proportion of armaments that can be held by any one country may not surpass one third of the total for all countries. Finally, the treaty was complemented by the CFE-1A Agreement of July 10th, 1992, a political declaration limiting the conventional armed forces of each country in the CFE area.
The first CFE Review Conference took place in May 1996. See the Final Document.
2. The Adaptation of the CFE Treaty
In an attempt to adapt the Treaty to the new security environment, the State Parties signed an Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty during the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul.
The main changes brought about by the new treaty were:
II. The Question of the Flank Agreement and the Russian Military Bases
The CFE application area is divided into four subzones, one of which covers the northern and southern extremes, and which is called the flank zone. The flank zone comprises of territory belonging to Russia, Norway, Iceland, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. Due to its major strategic importance, this area was made subject to specific limitations.
Compliance with the treaty in the southern flank zone has proved contentious. While
Russia is currently abiding by its overall CFE Treaty limits, it is deploying tanks and
ACVs above sub-limits in the flank zone.
Russia claims that it is the military campaign in Chechnya which prevents it from complying with its Treaty obligations, and assures that limits will be respected once the campaign has ended.
1. Russian Military Presence in Georgia
In the Final Act agreed upon at the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul, Russia agreed in a joint
statement with Georgia to withdraw part of its military equipment from bases located
on Georgian territory. Russia undertook to disband the military bases of Gudauta and
Vaziani by 1 July 2001, while Georgia granted Russia the right to basic temporary
deployment at the bases at Batumi and Akhalkalaki.
While the Vaziani base was closed on time, withdrawal from the Gudauta base in Abkhazia
was not fully completed within the agreed upon time frame. According to official Russian
sources, the main hurdles were the refusal of Abkhaz authorities to allow for the presence
of international observers, as well as widespread local opposition to the operation. While
the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the de facto dismantling of Gudauta on 9
November 2001, the Georgian MFA still claims the non-fulfillment of the agreements by the
Condemnation of this failure by Georgian authorities has been widespread. See
For the position of Russia, see a declaration by B. Malakhov, Deputy Director of the
Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Dismantling
of Russian Base in Gudauta, August 20th, 2001.
2. Russian Military Presence in Moldova
After a cease-fire signed in 1992 had virtually ended fighting in the separatist,
Russian populated Moldovan territory of Transdnistria, a peacekeeping force which included
a Russian presence was deployed in the region. Russia and Moldova signed an agreement in
October 1994 calling for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the province
within three years. Because the agreement linked the withdrawal of Russian troops to the
achievement of a political solution to the conflict, Transdnistrian authorities walked out
of the negotiations. The Russian Duma has still not ratified the agreement.
The question of the Russian military bases abroad is further complicated by Russian, US
and NATO conditions often linking the CFE process to the wider security framework.
NATO indicated that they will not ratify the adaptation agreement until Russia complies with prescribed weapons limits. See the excerpts of NATO's Ministerial Meeting, 15 December 1999
This approach had been previously adopted by US President Clinton on a national basis, when he stipulated that he would not submit the adapted Treaty to the US Senate unless Russia complied with the prescribed weapons limits. See the relevant excerpt of the US Department of Defence's strategy paper Strengthening Transatlantic Security, December 2000
This attitude was also reflected - albeit in a very discrete manner - in the Final Document of the Second Review Conference on CFE and CFE 1, June 1st, 2001.
Russia's position is that the entry into force of the adapted CFE Treaty should not be
delayed. Moscow also warns that State Parties should refrain from actions which it
considers bound to upset the strategic stability on the European continent - in
particular, the admission of the Baltic states into NATO. Click here for a MFA's press
the second Conference on Review of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, June
5th, 2001 (also available in pdf). Within the context of the controversial deployment of a
US Missile Defence system, officials from the Russian Ministry of Defence have warned that
a unilateral abandonment of the Anti- Ballistic Missile Defence Treaty by the US could
result in a Russian withdrawl from all arms control treaties, including CFE.