The Guardian 5 December, 2007

Russia responds to NATO strategy

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin held a regular meeting with Russiaís top military leaders at the Russian Defence Ministry.

President Putin made a clear statement as to why Russia had decided to suspend its participation in a key arms control treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

"In violation of previous agreements, military resources of NATO members are being built up next to our borders. Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to remain indifferent to this obvious muscle-flexing", said Putin at the meeting.

Russia has strongly opposed US plans to establish missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic and the deployment of US and other NATO forces on the territory of former Soviet Republics.

Putin said that the suspension of Russiaís obligation under the treaty, limiting the deployment of tanks, aircraft and other heavy conventional weapons across the continent, was part of Russiaís response.

Both houses of parliament have endorsed Putinís call for the suspension. He justified the suspension, due to take effect on December 12, by pointing to NATO nationsí failure to ratify the amended version of the treaty.

"We wonít observe any obligations unilaterally", Putin said.

"Our partners havenít ratified the amended version of the treaty, and some havenít even signed it. Shall we do it unilaterally for years?"

Putin also warned that Russia would also increase the combat-readiness of its strategic nuclear forces to ensure a "swift and adequate response to any aggressor."

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