Armenia Threatens To Quit Key Arms Treaty


Armenia could pull out of a key arms control pact if arch-rival Azerbaijan continues its military build-up in the coming years, Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian warned on Friday. Harutiunian claimed that Azerbaijan is already failing to comply with the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which places specific limits on the deployment of troops and heavy weapons from the Atlantic coast to Russia's Ural mountains. “The Republic of Armenia has made no such decision yet,” he said. “But if Azerbaijan does not stop buying and brining in large quantities of weapons in contravention of that treaty, Armenia could make such a decision.” The CFE, which helped to end the Cold War, sets equal weapons quotas for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. All three South Caucasus states signed up to the treaty following the Soviet collapse. Earlier this week, Russia officially suspended its participation in the treaty in protest against failure by all NATO member states to ratify its revised 1999 version. The treaty has clearly not prevented an intensifying arms race between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The latter is increasingly using its soaring oil revenues for a military build-up which Baku hopes will eventually enable it to win back Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries have long been accusing each other of exceeding their CFE ceilings. In particular, Azerbaijan says that Armenia has keeps a large part of its weaponry in Nagorno-Karabakh to imitate its compliance with the pact. Armenian officials, for their part, accuse Baku of obstructing international inspections of its military facilities. Harutiunian issued the warning after hearings on Armenia’s defense doctrine organized by the National Assembly committee on defense and security. Artur Aghabekian, a retired army general heading the panel, likewise said that Yerevan should be prepared for such an option. “Pulling out of the CFE does not stem from Armenia’s national interests,” said Aghabekian. “But if the treaty becomes non-existent, we should not regard that as a tragedy. Armenia would have to draw conclusions.”


In related news:

Armenia’s deputy chair of parliament: Russia’s suspension of CFE Treaty must not cause concern

Russia’s suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is a rude attempt to correct the mistakes of the Russian leadership made in 1990s, believes Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly, member of ARFD Dashnaktsutiun Vahan Hovhannisyan. He made the statement at a news conference today, on December 13. A REGNUM correspondent quotes him as saying that permanent NATO expansion, boisterous wish of some post-Soviet republics to enter the alliance must make Russia concerned. However, according to the deputy speaker, such motion of the Russian leadership will not help increasing trust of its Western partners. At the same time, the suspension of the treaty by Russia must not stir concern, as, for instance, Russia’s military strategy has no aggressive programs, Hovhannisyan believes. Commenting on the question whether it is possible that Armenia would follow Russia’s example in the CFE Treaty, the politician noted that such action would be possible only if Armenia’s closest neighbors in he region revise their participation in the treaty. At the same time, the deputy speaker said hat one Armenia’s neighbor – Azerbaijan – has never limited itself in buying arms and violating thus the CFE principles. Russia suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty on December 12. For the time of the moratorium, Russia will in no way be bound by limitations, including flank restrictions for the number of conventional weapons. Further, true numbers of weapons and its deployment will depend on a certain military and political situation.


Russia suspends arms control pact

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which suspends Russia's participation in a treaty limiting military forces in Europe. It follows its adoption earlier this month by the Russian parliament. The Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, signed in 1990, limits the deployment of tanks, aircraft and other heavy conventional weapons. Russia says the suspension is a reply to the non-ratification of the treaty by Nato countries. The law will come into effect on 12 December, allowing Russia to boost its troop levels on its western and southern borders, although no imminent plans to this effect have been announced. Nato members, led by the United States, have refused to ratify the CFE treaty until Moscow withdraws its troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia, as Russia had promised in 1999.


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