There really isn’t much of a way to enforce arms control treaties… except by maintaining goodwill among the nations that sign them. If one party gets a reputation for breaking or pulling out of treaties, eventually the other party realizes there isn’t much benefit to not doing the same. All you need is one bad actor and it all falls apart:
President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday suspending Russia’s participation in a major conventional arms treaty that had limited NATO and Russian military deployments in Europe.
The Kremlin had been threatening all year to scrap the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty, and on Friday, Putin signed a law passed this month by parliament providing for that step. The suspension takes effect Dec. 12.
Signed in the last days of the Cold War, the arms accord limited the number of tanks, combat aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as artillery pieces and other heavy weapons, that NATO and Russia could deploy in Western Europe and the western part of Russia.
The United States, the European Union and NATO all had urged Russia not to suspend the treaty, which was regarded in Western Europe as a cornerstone agreement for maintaining security on the continent.
“NATO regrets this decision,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said in a statement. “We hope that the Russian Federation will not take any unilateral actions that undermine the integrity of the treaty. Allies are looking forward to discussing the issue at the upcoming NATO-Russia Council meeting.”
The Kremlin had previously linked suspension to U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The United States says the system is intended as defense against a potential threat from Iran, but Russia fears it will be used to peer into its airspace. Russian officials have not been assuaged by U.S. proposals designed to alleviate those concerns.