The future of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, widely considered to be the cornerstone of European security, was thrown into stark question when the Russian Federation announced in December 2007 that it would suspend its participation in the treaty. The 1990 treaty, considered the most ambitious and far ranging conventional arms control treaty in history, established limits on the numbers of conventional military hardware deployed in Europe, required substantial reductions in conventional arsenals, and created an intrusive regime of inspections and verification. In many ways, the treaty changed the face of European security by establishing new, cooperative political-military relationships.
It is critically important that a negotiated compromise is found that avoids the collapse of this “cornerstone,” which would have dramatic consequences for European security. The status quo is not sustainable. If Russia continues its suspension and efforts to resolve the issues that precipitated the Russian withdrawal remain deadlocked, the treaty will, over time, collapse. This would change the face of European security — and not for the better. There appear to be only three possibilities — and no easy way to reach critical political will on any of them.
McCausland, Jeffrey D. "The Future of the CFE Treaty – Why It Still Matters." EastWest Institute, June 2009.