|The United States and NATO, along with several European states, expressed disappointment Saturday over Russia's suspension of its participation in a key arms control treaty. |
"We're disappointed Russia has suspended its participation for now," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe in a statement.
"But we'll continue to have discussions with them in the coming months on the best way to proceed in this area, that is in the interest of all parties involved and provides for security in Europe," he added.
The Kremlin announced Saturday that President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree suspending Russia's application of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.
The CFE treaty, which came into force in 1992, is one of the key post-Cold War security accords in Europe.
It limits deployments of tanks and troops in countries belonging to NATO and the former Warsaw Pact in eastern Europe and lays down measures aimed at confidence-building, transparency and cooperation between member states.
Russia had threatened several times to pull out of the treaty amid unease over US military encroachment into territory once part of the former Soviet Union, including plans to develop a US missile defence shield in Europe.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai also expressed disappointment at the move.
"It's a disappointing move, a step backwards. NATO considers this treaty to be an important foundation of European security and stability," he said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meanwhile expressed "great concern" at the move.
Speaking in Lithuania during a tour of the Baltic countries, he said the treaty was a central element in the international architecture of disarmament.
"That is why we obviously regard Moscow's announcement with great concern."
"In the next few days we will see what concrete measures will be taken because of this announcement," he said, adding that he hoped Russia would go no further than suspend the treaty.
Poland said it "regrets" Moscow's decision.
"Taking previous announcements into account, this decision is not a surprise and doesn't have immediate consequences," said foreign ministry spokesman Robert Szaniawski.
But Warsaw hoped the decision "does not signify a future denunciation of the treaty" by Putin, given Russia's importance for European and world security.
Romania's foreign ministry also expressed its "disappointment."
"Romania considers that the CFE treaty represents a basis for European security," the ministry said, adding that it hoped "that dialogue between the states participating in the CFE treaty will be maintained and that all of the states will continue to respect their obligations within the framework of the treaty."