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Russia withdraws from NATO weapons treaty

December 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin on Friday signed a law suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the Kremlin announced.

Starting Dec. 12, Russia will halt inspections and verifications of its military sites by NATO countries and will no longer be obligated to limit the number of conventional weapons deployed west of the Ural Mountains.

"This is a mistake," U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said at a security conference in Madrid. "It is Russia unilaterally walking out of one of the most important arms control regimes of the last 20 years."

Putin called for Russia's temporary withdrawal from the treaty amid mounting anger in the Kremlin over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The move reflects growing confidence as Russia uses soaring budget revenue to regain its status as a world military power.

Russia says it has pulled the last of its troops from Georgia. But questions remain about its troops in the separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia.

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