Belarus Halts Participation in European Military Treaty

President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree suspending Belarus’ participation in a treaty that limits the deployment of conventional forces in Europe, matching a move already taken by ally Russia.

The decree, signed on May 24, was published on Wednesday on an official government website of the ex-Soviet state that borders both Russia and Ukraine.

First signed by NATO and the Warsaw Pact towards the end of the Cold War in 1990, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) limits the number of tanks, combat aircraft, and other military equipment that can be deployed between the Atlantic and the Ural Mountains.

Although not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, Belarus hosted Russian troops as Moscow readied to launch its “special military operation” against Kyiv in February 2022.

Belarus has slid ever closer to Moscow since Lukashenko’s highly-contested re-election in 2020, with the president now closing in on three decades in power.

Russia provides financial, military, and diplomatic support to Lukashenko’s regime.

Moscow unilaterally suspended its CFE participation in December 2007, describing the accord as anachronistic.

It said it was doing so after Western countries and NATO members refused to ratify a new version of the treaty that was amended in 1999.

Russia claimed those countries demanded as a condition for ratifying the new version the withdrawal of Russian forces from the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova and parts of Georgia.

In 2008, Russia sent troops into the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially rubber-stamped Russia’s exit from the treaty in May 2023.

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