THE CFE TREATY:
A COLD WAR ANACHRONISM?
Jeffrey D. McCausland
Department of National Security and Strategy
U.S. Army War College
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013
February 15, 1995
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
On November 19, 1990, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was signed in Paris following the successful completion of 20 months of negotiations between the members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization. At its completion President Bush hailed the agreement as ending the" . . . military confrontation that has cursed Europe for decades." Despite the dramatic nature of this document, the large scale reduction required of all signatories, and the complex inspection regime it established; the completion of the treaty was overshadowed by the ongoing deterioration of the Warsaw Pact, end of the Berlin Wall, and impending conflict in the Persian Gulf between Iraq and the coalition headed by the United States. Even these events paled to insignificance in comparison to the dissolution of the Soviet Union roughly 1 year later. In this study, the author examines the viability of this agreement in the post-Cold War era. He describes the scope of the treaty, how it was adapted to meet many of the changes that have occurred, and how it has moved towards final implementation in November 1995.
The author describes the problem of the flank limitations that Russian and Ukrainian forces must subscribe to at the end of the implementation period. Both countries have argued that they can no longer live with these restrictions and have formally requested that they be removed or modified. He notes that there has been little progress towards resolving this impasse, and there is every indication that the Russian Federation will be in violation of the CFE accord in November of this year. This development indicates not only Russian disquiet with the treaty but larger questions concerning the role of various "players" in the Russian national security process and the direction of Russian foreign policy. The author then suggests a framework that NATO should adopt in formulating a policy towards the flank question.
The final portion of the study is devoted to the future role of conventional arms control in American foreign policy. Here the author discusses the implications that a compromise or failure in CFE implementation may have on broader questions of policy as well as the areas of emphasis for the Review Conference scheduled for spring 1996.
The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to publish this report as a contribution to understanding this issue of U.S. national security policy.
WILLIAM W. ALLEN Colonel, U.S. Army Acting Director Strategic Studies Institute
This study examines the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with respect to the process of implementation to date and prospects for final implementation in November 1995. It describes the basic points of the treaty and the danger posed by the ongoing disagreement between NATO and the Russian Federation over the limitations imposed by the treaty on Russian forces in the "flank areas" (Leningrad and North Caucasus Military Districts in the Russian Federation). It analyzes the positions of the primary NATO members, Russian Federation, Ukraine, as well as the United States, and places the treaty in the broader context of Russian foreign policy and the future of conventional arms control. The main findings are as follows.
The Treaty and Implementation Process.
- The Treaty consists of over 110 pages of text encompassing 23 Treaty articles, protocols, and two annexes. There are two legally binding agreements and four other political documents associated with the overall accord. It limits five categories of weapons between the NATO and Warsaw Pact (tanks, artillery, armored combat vehicles, helicopters, and attack aircraft). The area of agreement is further subdivided into geographic subzones with limits for each area. Overall limits for each alliance are 20,000 tanks; 30,000 armored combat vehicles; 20,000 artillery pieces; 6,800 combat aircraft; and 2,000 attack helicopters. The treaty is designed to be implemented by stages with each country reducing by 25 per cent of its overall requirement the first year, 60 per cent in 1994, and 100 per cent by November 1995 with a period of four months (until March 1996) to verify residual levels.
- Despite the tremendous changes that have occurred since 1989, the treaty remains in the best interest of the United States. It has prevented arms racing, increased the level of transparency, reduced the possibility of both surprise attack and miscalculation, and enhanced conventional deterrence. The treaty also provides for annual notifications of changes to force structure as well as overall information exchanges. Lastly, it requires countries to comply with stringent force requirements and assists in the continuing momentum of the process which may have positive effects in other areas.
- Implementation has proceeded well. All reduction targets have been achieved with the exception of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The treaty has provided opportunities for NATO to cooperate with the new states of Eastern Europe and emerging countries of the former Soviet Union in terms of arms control inspector training and transfer of data. By September 1994 over 18,000 items of treaty limited equipment (TLE) had been destroyed including 6,000 from the Russian Federation. There has been no evidence of a concerted effort by any party to cheat or intentionally mislead inspection teams.
The Problem of the Flanks.
- The eventual implementation of the treaty by the end of 1995 remains uncertain. The Russian Federation has protested that it must be relieved of Article V which limits Russian forces in the Leningrad and North Caucasus Military Districts (referred to as the "flanks"). The Ukraine has also protested these restrictions as discriminatory and beyond its capability. Russian officials have argued that they will need roughly 400 tanks, 2,400 ACVs, and 800 artillery pieces in excess of what they are authorized to confront growing tensions particularly on their southern flank. This area includes Chechnya where the Russians are likely to desire a large force for an extended period of time to defeat Chechen forces and maintain control.
- The Russians and Ukrainians have proposed various solutions to this impasse, but most have required a significant change to the treaty which might well require the agreement to be resubmitted to national assemblies for ratification. NATO has opposed these solutions and urged Russia and the Ukraine to seek solutions within the "flexibility of the treaty." Turkey and Norway (the countries most directly affected by increased Russian forces on the flanks) have strongly opposed any change to the treaty, and this position has been endorsed by France in the High Level Task Force (HLTF). Turkey has suggested that it might withdraw from the treaty if Russian demands are met.
Implications of the Ongoing Disagreement.
- The position of the Russian Federation on this issue may well reflect other factors and difficulties. The various "players" in the Russian national security process (Ministry of Defense, General Staff, President, Foreign Minister, and Ministry of the Interior) have at times openly disagreed. Furthermore, it is difficult to envisage Russian leaders compromising on this issue shortly before the next Russian presidential elections in June 1996. Lastly, any compromise which allows a significant increase in Russian forces in the south has serious implications for their policies towards the "near abroad" and reincorporation of these countries into the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
- As we approach the last year of implementation, NATO must act quickly to find a solution. In doing so the NATO members must keep in mind the broader issues confronting the Alliance. Failing to do so may not only compromise the treaty but also submit NATO to severe internal dissension. If a compromise can be found and the treaty is fully implemented many of the issues now being discussed will be on the agenda at the followup conference in the spring of 1996.
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