From Moratorium to War. Causes and Consequences of Russia's Suspension of the CFE Treaty

Master's Thesis, 2009

55 Pages, Grade: A



Executive Summary


Part I
1. Research Dimension
1.1 Definition of the Topic and its Importance
1.2. Goal of the Research
1.3. Theoretical Framework
1.4. Research Methodology
2. Description
2.1. Idea and Evolution of the Treaty
2.2 Irregularities and Istanbul Summit
2.3. Bilateral Agreement between Russia and Georgia
2.4. Crisis around CFE

Part II
3. Consequences of the Crisis Escalation
3.1. Research Hypothesis
3.2. The Factsheet
3.3. Crisis Variables
3.3.1. Frequency of Irregularities
3.3.2. Capacity of Irregularities
3.3.3. Dimension of Irregularities
3.4. Impact of Variables on the Escalation of the Crisis
3.5. Milestone of the Escalation of the Crisis
4. Crisis Management Potential
4.1. Analysis of CFE Efficiency
4.1.1. Empirical Probability of Crisis Management
4.1.2. Practical Application of Crisis Management
4.2. Application of the CFE as a Probability for the Prevention of the War
5. From Moratorium to War
5.1. Hypothetical Reality
5.2. Cause and Effect Relation

Part III
6. Research Assumptions
6.1. CFE as a Model
6.2. Russian Interpretation of European Security Architecture
6.3. CFE as a Cornerstone of European Security Architecture
Applied Literature
Online Sources

Annex I

Research Interviewees


“War Is a Mere Continuation of Policy by Other Means,” - Carl von Clausewitz, 1832

The words of Carl von Clausewitz in his masterpiece “On War” was essentially inspired to explain rational motives beyond the nature of the war. Whilst crossing the Georgian territory in August 2008, the Russian Government presumably visualized her policy in these arrangements; yet, another part of the story was how others observed such arrangements, sacrificing their lives to rational calculations.

Nowadays, when Russia’s rising political aspirations are in turn followed by rising interest for necessary clarifications, it is critically important to analyze the motives that led the Russian Federation to search for the means to the end. The paper below reflects on this dimension and analyses the reasons that generated Russian hostility against Georgia through different ways.

The knowledge I received at Academia largely contributed to research undertaking by, for which I would like to extend my gratitude to the academic staff of the department.

I would like to thank the Georgian Institute for Russian Studies and Mr. Nikoloz Vashakidze for co-operation that supported my research arrangements.

Special thanks to all those people whose moral support was important through last two years.

Marie Eliadze, 2009

Executive Summary

The research topic focuses on the concept of European security. With this respect, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) is featured as a starting point of 90-ies, 20th century, when security arrangements required to enforce permanent control on conventional weaponry in Europe. Even though the reality today actually differs from the political processes of 90-ies, the fact remains that CFE is considered as a cornerstone of European security.

The core idea is to find a linkage between the moratorium on treaty provisions in 2007 by the signatory party – the Russian Federation – and the consequences that led to the Russian war on the territory of Georgia. Considering the earlier arrangements at the wake of the century, when CFE orchestrated a breakthrough in negotiations to withdraw Russian military bases out of Georgia, it is interesting to focus on the nature of leverage through which the West exercised power to engage Russia into political processes before the moratorium on CFE. The research dimension does not link the moratorium directly with the occupation of Georgia; rather through its emphasis on necessary argumentation, it rationalizes developments after the moratorium, which led the crisis situation in Georgia’s zone of conflict to escalate into armed conflict. Based on hypothetical probability, the discussion basically weighs up the cause and effect relationship between the moratorium and the war. This supports the line of the research to analyze risks that may possibly erode the European security architecture.

Applied literature of the research is not wholly exhaustive list of data and the views expressed in the book are seen according to the author’s individual framework.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Part I

1. Research Dimension

1.1 Definition of the Topic and its Importance

European security is central among different foundations the global stability is based upon, in a view of its geopolitical, economic and strategic importance and the reason for international actors to strive for its revival.

Following the World War II, the concept of secure Europe has prompted the creation of the organization that would be founded on common values and ensure necessary security arrangements. The common European model promulgated with the establishment of the European Union, whereas security provisions required to disarm the continent: on this purpose, in 1990 the then Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Treaty of Warsaw concluded the agreement, which aimed to reduce the level of conventional weaponry[1] with the signature of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)[2].

Despite the change of geopolitical landscape after the conclusion of the CFE, the treaty is in force up to now, but the implementation of treaty provisions is largely delayed by the moratorium of the signatory party the Russian Federation in 2007. Through this moratorium, the Russian Federation disregarded responsibility to share information on the stockpiles of conventional weaponry and to allow inspection[3] on her territory within the area of application.

A year after moratorium, Russia’s short war with Georgia raised many questions among scholars and political commentators, with emphasis on possible tension in Russian-American relations. In such circumstances, the experts advised the United States not to irritate a country which possessed largest stockpile of uranium.[4] Besides, the issue of European security came to the fore: the bordering country – the Russian Federation – enforced military aggression for the first time after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even though the victim of the aggression was not the member of the European Union, it was in fact located at the edge of Europe.

1.2. Goal of the Research

The goal of the research is: (i) to find a linkage between Russian moratorium on CFE as a signatory party in 2007 with its war in 2008; and (ii) to discuss underlying risks of the causal relationship between the two in a broader European security framework.

Basic dimension of the research remains narrow in order to provide an insight for underlying challenges in a broader framework (represented into the second part of the research). Respectively, the research tests a hypothesis for causal relationship between the moratorium and the war to make key assumptions and analyze to what extent the hypothetical reality is important for concluding observations.

The general topics related with research area, such as the Common Defence and Security Policy of the European Union or the policy of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are not the subject for the study. Likewise, the area of research does not necessarily embrace the specific policies of the CFE signatory parties (aside from countries who are subject to research dimension); nor is the Russia-Georgia War timeline prioritized for these particular purpose. Rather, the research aims to examine the implications of the moratorium of the CFE and subsequent developments. The key assumptions of the research helps to anticipate a specific action and examine what could possibly affect the stability in the continent in a view of the suspended CFE treaty.

1.3. Theoretical Framework

Taking into note that political foresight of the Russian Federation still suffers from the soviet grip, it sees the norms and concepts of the previous century adaptable to modern world. This may probably explain Russian passion for Europe, which remains increasingly important for the area of its influence. Such ramifications are featured prominently into the agenda of Russia’s political circles, in a view of the Theory of Heartland by British geopolitical scholar Halford John Mackinder. The theory is expressed into the article The Geographical Pivot of History (1904). Based on the theory of balance of power, Mackinder formulates a concept – “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.”[5]

The research explores Mackinder’s theoretical framework in order to define political considerations of Russia within European continent, in a view of the suspended CFE treaty. Even though the modern political realism stands far from the control and rule of sovereign countries and socio-political differentiation within Europe does not necessarily give substantial reasons for single policy attitude, the bottom line of the theory is quite bold: alliance with Europe bears fundamental importance for those who aspire dominance in inter-dependent multipolarity. Therefore, co-operation with Europe is a medium for the balance of power in world politics today.

In order to reflect on the theory of Mackinder and Russia’s European delineations, the research sees the CFE Treaty in a view of the “Cornerstone of European Security” and analyses specific developments that followed the suspension of the treaty by the Russian Federation.

1.4. Research Methodology

In order to justify facts and developments, the research explores quantitative and qualitative research strategies:[6] (1) numerical data; and (2) qualitative attitudes.

These are based on individual analysis of the author and the number of methods: (i) interviews, both with primary sources (public officials, who are directly associated with the subject concerned) and independent experts; (ii) written data from primary sources (government bodies and international organizations); (iii) printed and internet resources (independent researches, government and media reports).

The research is conducted with a deduction method: first, it explores a theory and then hypothesis, which requires empirical study for concluding observations.[7]

The research uses case study and comparative study designs.[8] The interviews use face-to-face (semi-structural type) and online interaction (structural type).[9]

The research topic is the subject of II level of analysis of international relations.[10]

2. Description

2.1. Idea and Evolution of the Treaty

Conclusion of the Treaty was preceded by uneasy developments. By signing the Helsinki Final Act in 1975,[11] the work for the common concept for European security has started to evolve, with a purpose of ensuring equal participation of both Cold War blocs concerned. Aside for laying a foundation for the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (later the OSCE), the treaty defined areas for effective measures for the stability and security in Europe. The emphasis was put on the principle of the non-use of force, which made signatory parties responsible for the abstention of hostilities in Europe; however, the military stand-off of the two blocs regenerated by means of proxy wars[12] beyond the European continent.

Strategic objective of Helsinki Final Act obviously proved right, as far as wars on the periphery has in fact exhausted the Soviet Bloc from all of its military and non-military capabilities; momentum of peace in Europe gradually accelerated the break-up of the Iron Curtain. Lastly, since German reunification international community became increasingly in need of international congress, in which the then member states of NATO and the Treaty of Warsaw would agree on basic rules and principles of their respective policies. In reality, involvement of two blocs into the single treaty aimed to explore further possibilities for emerging and reputable democracies.

As a result, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe adopted on Paris Summit on 19-21 November, 1990[13] was based on lingering principles of democracy, peace and unity with a purpose of upholding the notion of Europe whole and free; this would provide added value for the creation of effective security system. Through keeping in line with general principle of security, the state parties realized the need for multilateral mechanism for the control of weapons. This would put the ground and air forces of the two blocs under control and reduce the probability of military aggression in the area of application. The basic principles evolved since 1989 during the negotiations at Vienna Round.[14]

The essence of the reduction and control of conventional weaponry was to prevent the surprise attack and full-scale combat operations by means of early warning and monitoring systems. This was incentive for the parties to sign the CFE Treaty and ensure that the numbers of conventional armaments and equipments limited by the Treaty within the area of application did not to exceed 20,000 battle tanks, 30,000 armoured combat vehicles, 20,000 pieces of artillery, 6, 800 combat aircraft and 2,000 attack helicopters for each bloc.[15] The quotas were allotted to member states based on the principle of parity.

The treaty made the state parties responsible for the control of their armament ceilings and implementation of treaty provisions. With this respect, the treaty initiated a number of important components: (i) the host state consent requirement for stationing foreign military bases within the area of application; (ii) the two blocs agreed to activate the so called flank regime, which included strict limits on equipment holdings in this region and separation of forces between the two flanks – Bulgaria, Greece, Island, Norway, Romania and Turkey in NATO; and military districts in Leningrad, Odesa, South and North Caucasus in Soviet Union;[16]

After the break-up of the USSR, the state parties reconnected in Tashkent[17] and signed the Agreement on The Principles and Procedures for the Implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe in 1992. The quotas were then allotted to sovereign states instead. Since CFE entered into force the same year, the solid guarantee for the security in Europe was established, aiming to reduce the number of weapons from Atlantic to Urals. The limits on weapons was in force on the European continent only and functioned permanently. The area of application did not cover the state parties who did not belong to either of the blocs previously.

2.2 Irregularities and Istanbul Summit

In 1999 the survey of the Joint Consultative Group found the military forces of the Russian Federation in excess of the ceilings, as defined by treaty provisions in its flank zone (North Caucasus military district).[18] In reality, the presence of excessive military capabilities was caused by its war in Chechnya, for which Russia became in need of accumulating extensive military capabilities in North Caucasus. Nevertheless, Russia was not a subject to any sanction in frames of the CFE.

By the end of 90-ies, it was clear that the provisions of CFE required modifications for ensuring flexibility with new political developments: by the integration of Eastern European states into NATO, the state parties made a decision to adapt the CFE, in which the ceilings were defined according to the territorial scales of the countries, reflecting the norms and standards in accordance with the national security concepts of the respective signatories. The treaty maintained the provision on flank regime to a certain extent – covering all 30 state parties, who maintained this regime in the original version of the treaty.[19]

The adapted CFE is ratified by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The treaty does not cover Slovenia and Baltic States, who have been the member states of NATO already in 1999. With this respect, Russia was required to undertake specific responsibilities; only after the fulfillment of these responsibilities the rest of NATO members would ratify the treaty. Likewise, these states would be able to accede to the treaty as soon as the treaty comes into force. The requirements for Russia are formulated into Istanbul Commitments.[20]

The member states of NATO became in need of imposing commitments on Russian Federation because of the following irregularities: (i) military forces in the flank zone of Russian Federation (North Caucasus military district) were in excess of the ceilings; (ii) presence of Russian military bases on the territories of Georgia and Moldova without the consent of the respective authorities of the states was in violation of treaty provisions.[21]

2.3. Bilateral Agreement between Russia and Georgia

The summit made Russia responsible to (1) withdraw her military bases from Moldova; (2) reduce equipment levels in Georgia and agree with Georgian authorities on modalities and duration of the remaining bases; and (3) reduce TLE (Treaty Limited Equipment) in its flank zone (North Caucasus).[22]

It should be noted that under 1995 bilateral agreement between Georgia and Russia, the presence of Russian bases on the territory of Georgia was defined by 25 years; however the implementation of the agreement would have been possible only if Georgia restored its jurisdiction in Abkhazia and Russia supported Georgia create its army.[23] The document reflected the reality of newly independent state, still dependent on its northern neighbor, despite the conflicts inspired by Russia itself; however the very prerequisite of the agreement resulted into the failure of its implementation.

In contrast, 1999 OSCE Summit opened a window of opportunity for Georgia to deal with the issue of withdrawal of Russian military bases at multilateral forum since Russia failed to live up to its commitments under the 1995 bilateral agreement. The corresponding interests of Georgia and the West has encouraged diplomats to merge Georgian position into the Istanbul Commitments. Henceforth, the new agreement between Georgia and Russia was legally affirmed under the 14 Annex of the Final Act of the adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.[24]

Under these commitments, the Russian Federation was responsible to pull out its bases from Vaziani, Akhalkalaki, Batumi and Gudauta by 2001. Initially, the two parties aimed to terminate Vaziani and Gudauta bases. According to the agreement, the Russian militants finally departed from Vaziani by 29 June 2001, whilst the further negotiations on Gudauta base delayed, without any mutually acceptable outcome. The coming round of negotiations continued on the armed forces stationed in Akhalkhalaki and Batumi, ending up with a final solution on May 30 2005, when the then foreign ministers of Georgia and Russia, signed a joint statement on the termination of the two bases[25]. Although the process was finished by 13 November 2007,[26] the military base of Gudauta, posted in Abkhazia, remained hotly disputed since 2001.[27]

Speculations on the military base in Gudauta evolved differently in different periods of time. According to the diplomats who participated into Russian-Georgian negotiations – Mr. Nikoloz Vashakidze and Mr. Gia Dolidze – the failure to reach compromised solution on the base with Georgia has driven the Russian Federation to declare about its liquidation. Georgian side repeatedly demanded official verification by international monitors; however, according to the diplomat Mr. Davit Dondua, it was necessary to have full-scale international format on the ground for ensuring efficiency of the mission. The international community failed to consolidate a tangible response, especially in a view of the official peacekeeping status of the Russian Federation under the CIS, with respect to the UN resolution.[28]

2.4. Crisis around CFE

The Istanbul Commitments are not fulfilled, for which the member states of NATO refuse to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty. The crises around CFE has started to unfold through different periods of time:

- Initially, the Russian Federation insisted that Istanbul Commitments were not the part of the CFE Treaty.[29] In fact, the term originated from OSCE Istanbul Summit, which gave a specific name to the obligations that are clearly defined by the adapted CFE; however Russia manipulated over the use of term to justify her arguments;

- Afterwards, Russia declared the Gudauta base terminated,[30] whereas it concluded a bilateral agreement with Moldova over the deferral of its military presence in Transnistria;[31]

- On 12 May 2007 Russia submitted an official note, which emphasized that the relocation of the former Warsaw Pact states into NATO shifted the balance of power between the two blocs, rather than emphasis on the responsibility to accomplish the Istanbul Commitments;[32]

- On 12 June 2007 at Vienna Conference, Russia declared that the adapted CFE no longer reflected the political reality and it should have been replaced by a new treaty.[33]

- On 14 July 2007 Russia declared a moratorium on CFE Treaty.[34]


[1] See the definition of the term (retrieved on June, 2009)

[2] See the full text of the treaty (retrieved on June, 2009)

[3] See the source: (retrieved on June, 2009)

[4] See Brian Michael Jenkins , Georgia Dispute Derails Bid to Stop Nuke Terrorism, Rand Corporation

[5] Halford John Mackinder, The Geographical Pivot of History, The Geographical Journal, 1904.

[6] Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, p. 3-25 Oxford University Press, 2004

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid p. 26-61

[9] Ibid P. 318-345

[10] Klaus Knorr, Sydney Verba, The International System: Theoretical Essays, gv. 77-92, Princeton University Press, 1961

[11] See Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe Final Act, Helsinki 1975

[12] See John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History, Penguin Press 2005

[13] See Charter of Paris for a New Europe, Paris 1990

[14] See the full text of the treaty (retrieved on June, 2009)

[15] Ibid

[16] See Questions and Answers on CFE on

[17] See Final Document of the First Conference to Review the Operation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Concluding Act of the Negotiation on Personnel Strength and Questions and Answers on CFE

[18] See the source on (retrieved on June, 2009)

[19] See Questions And Answers On CFE on (retrieved on June, 2009)

[20] Ibid

[21] Ibid

[22] Ibid

[23] See the television interview of Georgian diplomat Mr. Revaz Adamia (08.04.2009) on Georgian Public Broadcaster

[24] See Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty On Conventional Armed Forces in Europe on (retrieved on June, 2009)

[25] See the sources of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

[26] Ibid

[27] See the sources of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia

[28] See the UN Resolution #934, 1994

[29] See the source[tt_news]=27166 (retrieved on June, 2009)

[30] See the source[tt_news]=31702 (retrieved on June, 2009)

[31] Ibid

[32] The official note is available at the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

[33] See the source on (retrieved on June, 2009)

[34] See the source on (retrieved on June, 2009)

Excerpt out of 55 pages


From Moratorium to War. Causes and Consequences of Russia's Suspension of the CFE Treaty
International Relations
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August war, Russian-Georgian War, CFE Treaty, Charter of Europe, European Security, five day war, Russian politics, Georgia, Tbilisi, Russian-Georgian relations, military aggrression, occupation, annexation, military hostility, diplomacy, diplomatic relations
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Marie Eliadze (Author), 2009, From Moratorium to War. Causes and Consequences of Russia's Suspension of the CFE Treaty, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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