Source AP ©

Russian parliament votes against European arms treaty

After President Vladimir Putin urged to show defiance to the West, Russia ’s upper house of parliament voted Friday to suspend participation in a key European arms control treaty.

The Federation Council voted unanimously for a law suspending Russia's obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty that limits the deployment of tanks, aircraft and other heavy weapons across the continent.

Putin called for Russia's temporary withdrawal from the treaty amid mounting anger in the Kremlin over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in eastern Europe. Putin justified what he called a suspension of Russia's participation in the agreement by pointing to NATO's own failure to ratify an amended version.

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved the legislation last week, and it will take effect Dec. 12.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on the West to ratify the amended CFE treaty, saying that it was the only way to "put in order" arms control in Europe, Russian news agencies reported.

Under the moratorium, Russia will halt inspections and verifications of its military sites by NATO countries and will no longer be obligated to limit the number of conventional weapons deployed west of the Urals.

The 1990 arms control treaty set limits on the deployment of heavy conventional weapons by NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, to ease tensions along the border between the old Eastern bloc and Western Europe. The treaty was revised in 1999 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia ratified the updated treaty in 2004, but the United States and other NATO members have refused to follow suit, saying Moscow first must fulfill obligations to withdraw forces from Georgia and from Moldova's separatist region of Trans-Dniester.

Russia on Thursday announced that it had completed withdrawal of its conventional forces, though not its peacekeeping troops, from Georgia.

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