Russia is out of the CFET: subsequences for the E Europe, the Lithuanian few
The Baltic States are situated next to Russia; hence this region feels the beating of the Russian bear pulse very well. The Western Kremlinologists and the experts on Russia ridiculed those Balts who warned the West that Russia is irreversibly moving away from the liberal democracy and that Mr Putin is not a ‘democrat’. Those warnings made only some months after Putin became the President were ignored and laughed at. Now it is not funny any more. Now Russia is on its route out from the Conventional Forces Europe treaty. Hence, lets listen that some Lithuanian annalists have to say on the subject.
As the BNS reports Russia’s withdrawal from the Conventional Forces Europe treaty and its efforts to restore its military influence in post-Soviet countries may transform the Baltic States into demilitarized “grey” zone, Lithuanian foreign policy analysts believe.
The foreign policy experts are convinced that Russia would carry out its threat to leave the treaty on Dec. 12, thus facilitating deployment of more military equipment in South Caucasus and then “probably with somebody else’s hands” trying to provoke Tbilisi to a military conflict, which could discredit Georgia’s opportunity of joining NATO before the Alliance’s summit to take place in Romania next April.
The analysts said on condition of anonymity that Russia was also ready to take into consideration the aim of Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin to remain in power “at any price,” therefore, would guarantee him the Dnestr region votes and withdraw its forces in return for his loyalty to the Moscow course.
At the same time, by artificially escalating issues of Iran and the independence-seeking Kosovo and triggering contraposition of Euro-Atlantic partners on these matters, as well as on energy and economic issues, Russia could offer the West its plan for return to the Conventional Forces Europe treaty – in return for a permit to Russia to set conditions of the agreement.
One of the conditions could be “setting of very low ceiling of military equipment for the Baltic states,” which would pull the balance of military power in the NATO-Russian border region away from NATO, as well as from the Baltic nations.
The analysts close to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry believe that the West continue to have a certain degree of fear of “cold war” and would be glad to see Russia change its mind.
In their opinion, Russia’s true aims and intentions will clear up in the coming six months and are now clouded by the superb public relations, which cannot be resisted by all Western countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said back in the summer of 2007 that his country would stop observing the treaty, which restricts Russia’s military capacity in its European part – i.e., the number of tanks and troops close to the Baltic States. The parliament has endorsed the decision, which has also been officially forwarded to NATO.
Russia has not ratified the document and expressed preoccupation over NATO’s failure to do this, as well as the fact that the Baltic States have also not joined the treaty, which has been signed between the Alliance and the no longer existent post-Communist Warsaw pact.
Meanwhile, Lithuania has repeatedly stated its readiness to join the Conventional Forces Europe treaty under favorable conditions. Lithuania could only join the document signed in Istanbul after its enforcement, i.e., ratification by all 30 original members of the document. No new members including the Baltic countries may be allowed to join the Conventional Forces Europe treaty until its endorsement.
Five years after the final deadline that expired in 2002, Russia has not fulfilled one of the key conditions of the treaty – withdrawal of troops from Georgia and the Dnestr region in Moldova. Up until now, all NATO members held a position that they would not meet their obligation to ratify the treaty until Russia fulfils its commitments.
In August 1939, the Stalin-led Soviet Union and the Nazi Germany signed the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocols on unlawful division of Europe. The deals enabled the Soviets to occupy the Baltic States for 50 years and appoint puppet governments.
Should the Balts be afraid again?