A senior Russian military diplomat is quoted as saying that if NATO grants Membership Action Plans to Georgia and Ukraine, the Russian government will ultimately pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.
The CFE is a treaty first put in place in the waning days of the Soviet Union, and sets limits on how much conventional military equipment in allowed in Europe. Russia suspended the deal in summer of last year over a planned US missile base in Poland. The threat to pull completely out of the deal is not merely sour grapes on Russia’s part, it would seem: with more and more of Eastern Europe falling under NATO’s sway, the terms of the deal curb Russia’s internal deployment of military equipment west of the Ural mountains while leaving new NATO members (with long borders with Russia) free to dramatically enlarge their military forces.
Ukraine’s failed coalition government has sought to bring the nation into NATO, with an eye on expelling Russian forces from a naval base in Sevastopol and replacing them with a NATO presence. The move would likely have severe economic consequences to Ukraine, however, as its long and virtually open border with Russia has led to very close economic ties, ties the Russian government has suggested wouldn’t survive NATO membership.
Georgia, still reeling from a brief August war with Russia, has also sought NATO membership, which would compel most of the western world to declare war on Russia in the event another conflict broke out. But questions about the Georgian government’s anti-opposition crackdowns as well as emerging reports about Georgia’s disregard for the safety of civilians during the war have stalled the Caucasus nation’s prospects for membership.