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Russian pundit sees CFE treaty ending up on 'scrap heap of history'

Moscow, 15 July: NATO will not ratify the revised Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE), and the treaty will cease to exist, the chairman of the praesidium of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, Deputy Director of the Europe Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Karaganov thinks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on 14 July suspending Russia's activities under the CFE treaty and other international agreements linked to it.

"It is more than likely that NATO will not ratify the revised CFE treaty. I think that the treaty will end up on the scrap heap of history, and deservedly so," Karaganov said in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

According to Karaganov, the members of the alliance are unlikely to revise the treaty, because this will require of them an even greater reduction of armed forces that have already been reduced to the point of total ineffectiveness.

"I do not think that they will be able to reduce them to the required level. Indeed, they will not want to do this," Karaganov thinks.

In the opinion of the analyst, the CFE treaty is an "absolutely senseless, harmful Cold War tool, which was merely designed to revive militaristic thinking in Europe".

By imposing a moratorium on the CFE treaty, Russia is letting it be known that we will not play by the old rules that were devised when the USSR was collapsing and Russia was weak, the expert thinks.

"Now we will have a free hand," Karaganov pointed out.

It is his opinion that the CFE treaty was based on the concept of equal forces in Europe, "which never came into existence, and could not and should not have existed". Speaking of the West's reaction to the suspension of the CFE treaty, Karaganov noted that this was predictable and had been taken into account.

"They are exhibiting towards us a completely hypocritical concern. Everyone knows perfectly well that the treaty is absolutely senseless and was used in the 1990s on account of Russia's weakness to impose on us conditions of the kind in the Istanbul agreement (regarding withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia and the Dniester region)," the expert thinks.

In answering a question on the future of relations between Russia and NATO in the light of recent events, Karaganov noted that they will depend on whether "the alliance expands or not, and whether it fulfils useful functions or not". (Passage omitted: historical background).