UK halts Russian military agreement

 

The UK will stop sharing military information with Russia under an international convention following Moscow's failure to co-operate, the Government has announced.

The Russians suspended compliance with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in December 2007.

The treaty places limits on the build-up of troops, tanks, artillery and other non-nuclear forces from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains.

Europe Minister David Lidington said despite "considerable efforts to engage the Russian Federation" talks had broken down.

The decision was formally announced at a meeting in Vienna on Tuesday and Mr Lidington's statement to Parliament follows the United States' declaration it would halt co-operation with Russia.

In a written Commons statement Mr Lidington said: "Since December 2007, we have continued to fulfil our CFE Treaty obligations, and attempted to exercise our Treaty rights.

"We, our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies and other States Parties to the Treaty have also made considerable efforts to engage the Russian Federation in negotiations aimed at finding a mutually acceptable resolution, but without success."

He said a situation where 29 nations "fulfilled their Treaty obligations and one did not" could not continue indefinitely.

"As a result, alongside a number of CFE Treaty signatories, the United Kingdom announced that for as long as the Russian Federation fails to fulfil its obligations towards the United Kingdom under the CFE Treaty, we will cease fulfilment of our key obligations towards the Russian Federation."

Mr Lidington said the UK would no longer provide information to the Russians in the annual data exchange that takes place under the terms of the Treaty on December 15.

Also, the UK will not provide notifications to Russia under the terms of the CFE or accept inspections requested by them.

Mr Lidington said: "The United Kingdom remains committed to conventional arms control in Europe and will continue to fulfil our Treaty obligations with respect to all other states parties to the CFE Treaty.

"We will also continue to abide by and respect the numerical limitations on conventional armaments and equipment established by the Treaty.

"We remain open to negotiations with the Russian Federation should they demonstrate a willingness to address constructively the key issues which are currently preventing progress."

The move represents a further strain in relations between Moscow and the West.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned yesterday that he could deploy missiles to target a proposed US missile shield based in Europe.

"The United States and its Nato partners as of now aren't going to take our concerns about the European missile defence into account," Mr Medvedev said.

He warned that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missiles in its westernmost region, the Kaliningrad exclave bordering Poland.

PA

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