Interfax: Russia ready for new agreement on conventional weapons in Europe

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(Interfax – March 11, 2015)

Russia is ready for negotiations concerning a new treaty regarding the control of conventional weapons in Europe, Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department on non-proliferation and arms control issues, said.

“We are ready to consider the possibility and hold appropriate negotiations regarding a new agreement that is in line with the new reality, is not very costly, is well-thought out and balanced and, of course, is in line with the interests of the Russian Federation,” he said in an interview with Interfax.

Responding to a question as to why Russia has only suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty and has not withdrawn from it, Ulyanov said Russia did not want to “burn all bridges.”

“By the way, our decision to stay in the Joint Consultative Group at that time emphasized that we are ready for dialogue and restoration of arms control in Europe on a new foundation. We could, of course, pull out, but we generally recognize that arms control in Europe could be useful and we are not ready to be the ones who ‘bury’ this regime,” the Russian diplomat said.

“On the contrary, we are ready for dialogue, and we will see what it brings if it ever begins. Unfortunately, there are very many contradictions here, and not only those connected to Russia. There are contradictions between other countries, including members of the alliance,” Ulyanov said.

Ulyanov also said “our NATO colleagues matured to the understanding of the need for dialogue to overcome the crisis in the sphere of conventional arms control” back in 2010-2011.
“They initiated the 36 counties’ format then. It’s thirty initial CFE Treaty participants and six NATO countries that entered the alliance after the Treaty was signed,” he said.

“The U.S. was represented by Victoria Nuland in those negotiations. We conducted a total of ten rounds with her and other participants. After that, the negotiations deadlocked. I don’t think it happened through our fault,” Ulyanov said.

The diplomat said he is confident that, if consultations or negotiations on arms control in Europe resume now, “they should involve all countries that intend to join the future new treaty on conventional weapons control, regardless of whether they are members of the alliance or not.”

“A whole number of countries, in particular, Serbia and Switzerland, expressed interest in participation in the negotiations in 2010. If they stay interested in the foreseeable future, I think they, like any other country, should have a right to participate in the negotiations. However, it is not clear at all when they will begin and whether they will begin,” Ulyanov said.

“Our NATO partners have said more than once in private contacts and in public that they are working on appropriate proposals. We have not received these proposals yet. There are no consultations now and they are not currently planned,” he said.