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Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty

Volume 536: debated on Friday 25 November 2011

I would like to inform the House of measures being taken by the United Kingdom in relation to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). These measures were formally announced in the treaty’s Joint Consultative Group in Vienna on 22 November.

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.

The Russian Federation has failed to fulfil its obligations under the treaty since December 2007 to provide information to the United Kingdom and other states parties and to allow entry to the Russian Federation in order to verify that the information provided was correct. The United Kingdom, alongside other NATO allies, has repeatedly called on the Russian Federation to return to full compliance with its treaty obligations. We and other NATO allies publicly stated at NATO summits in Strasbourg/Kehl and Lisbon that a situation where 29 states parties 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. In effect the United Kingdom:

Will no longer provide information to the Russian Federation in the annual data exchange that takes place under the terms of the CFE treaty on 15 December;

Will no longer provide any notifications to the Russian Federation under the terms of the CFE treaty;

Will no longer accept inspections requested by the Russian Federation pursuant to the CFE treaty.

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.