Issue No. 14, April 1997
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty Flank Document:
Statement by Lynn Davis
Statement of Lynn Davis, Under Secretary of State for Arms
Control and International Security Policy, to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, 29 April 1997
"The CFE treaty has contributed importantly to military
stability, predictability and confidence during a period of
historic change in Europe, and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support
since the Bush administration successfully negotiated it. Since the
CFE treaty was signed in November 1990, the Warsaw Pact has
disappeared, the Soviet Union has dissolved, and the North Atlantic
Alliance has been transformed. The treaty has evolved as well, as
its 22 original signatories have become 30 sovereign States. The
States Parties to the CFE treaty have eliminated more than 53,000
pieces of heavy military equipment, and have accepted and conducted
nearly 3,000 intrusive on-site inspections.
For two treaty partners, however, these dramatic political
changes raised difficulties for implementing certain provisions of
the treaty, involving the 'flank' limitations of Article V. These
limitations were originally designed to prevent destabilizing
concentrations of Soviet forces opposite Turkey and Norway, as
large numbers of forces and equipment were pulled back from central
Europe. From early 1993, Russia argued that these limitations
restricted its ability to meet its security requirements in the
North Caucasus, where they were restructuring their military forces
following the collapse of the USSR. The Russians cited in
particular their low armored combat vehicle (ACV) entitlement for
the flank region. The Russian portion of the flank zone represents
approximately one-third of Russian territory west of the Urals, an
area more than five times the size of Germany, in which Russia can
hold no more than 580 ACVs with active military units.
Ukraine claimed that the flank limitations were outdated, in
that none of its neighbors considered a Ukrainian military presence
in the flank threatening. The Ukrainians also complained that the
flank restrictions would result in unreasonable implementation
costs, as they would require the construction of facilities in
northern Ukraine to accommodate units and equipment that would have
to be moved out of the flank zone.
By the end of the treaty's reduction period in November 1995,
Russia was in substantial compliance with its overall equipment
ceilings, but indicated that it would be unable to comply with the
Article V flank limitations. Ukraine exceeded both its overall and
flank entitlements, but indicated it would come into full
compliance as soon as the division of equipment held by the former
Soviet Black Sea Fleet between Russia and Ukraine was completed.
Although there has been no official notification of a settlement
over the division of this equipment, Ukraine has subsequently come
into full compliance with all treaty limits.
The Flank Agreement addresses these concerns on the part of
Russia and Ukraine in a manner that other CFE parties can accept...
At the same time, the Flank Agreement reaffirms Russia's commitment
to the basic obligations of the treaty at a time when there have
been voices in Moscow arguing that Russia should not be subject to
restrictions on where it can locate forces on its own
The flank negotiations were difficult. The Russians initially
sought elimination or suspension of the flank limits. They then
called for the creation of an 'exclusion zone' in the southern
portion of the North Caucasus Military District, where the treaty's
provisions would no longer apply. The United States and our NATO
Allies firmly rejected all proposals that could have had the effect
of calling into question the legitimacy of the treaty's flank
regime. We rejected certain claims by Russia concerning its
security problems, particularly with regard to the amount of
equipment Russia said it needed in the flank zone. The Alliance did
appreciate, however, that significant changes to political borders
had occurred in the flank region since 1990, and that Russia's low
armored combat vehicle (ACV) limit in the flank zone raised
legitimate questions that needed to be addressed.
For over two years, CFE States worked to find a way to address
these concerns about the flank limitations that would be acceptable
to all Parties. The resulting agreement is based on an approach
that was initially designed by NATO, and endorsed by all CFE States
Parties in November 1995 at the Joint Consultative Group (JCG) in
The Flank Agreement has three basic elements:
* a map realignment, which reduces the geographic area covered
by the treaty's flank limitations;
* additional constraints on equipment in areas removed from the
flank zone through the realignment; and
* additional transparency measures for the revised flank zone
and those areas removed from the flank zone.
The map realignment would remove certain areas in Russia and
Ukraine from the flank zone.
The Flank Agreement does not authorize an increase in any
State's overall permitted holdings of treaty-limited equipment
(TLE) in the total area of application of the treaty, nor does it
change the equipment limits for the flank zone as specified in the
CFE treaty. However, after the Flank Agreement enters into force,
the treaty's flank limits will apply to a smaller geographic area
than before. ...
The Flank Agreement also contains a unilateral Russian
commitment, provisionally applied as of 31 May, 1996, not to
increase its equipment holdings in the original flank zone above
the levels reported in Russia's 1 January, 1996, CFE data
submission. By 31 May, 1999, Russia must be in full compliance with
all treaty provisions, including:
* the flank limitations of Article V, which will apply to the
revised flank zone;
* overall caps on treaty-limited equipment in the original flank
zone, at levels lower than the provisionally-applied interim caps;
* sub-caps on Russian ACVs in the specific areas removed from
The Flank Agreement also contains provisions that will provide
greater transparency for all CFE States, including additional
inspections, and more frequent data submissions by Russia on its
flank holdings. ...
Provisional application of certain portions of the agreement
until 15 May, 1997, has directly benefited the US and NATO Allies.
It made the enhanced transparency provisions of the agreement,
including additional on-site inspections, effective immediately and
has provided protection against any increase in Russian deployments
in the flank zone prior to entry into force of the Flank Agreement.
Provisional application was based upon the understanding that
Russia was not relieved of its existing CFE obligations, including
its obligations with respect to its TLE holdings in the flank zone.
The map realignment itself has not been provisionally applied and
will not become effective unless and until the agreement enters
into force. This will happen when all CFE States Parties have
deposited confirmation of their approval of the Document with the
Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is the
depositary of the agreement.
Recognizing that time is short, we urge that the Flank Agreement
be approved by 15 May. Otherwise, the agreement becomes subject to
review, and there is a great risk that the flank issue would be
swept into the negotiations on adaptation of the CFE treaty.
Reopening the flank issue would put the entire flank regime at
risk. It would almost certainly preclude agreement in the next few
weeks on basic elements of CFE adaptation, a central element of our
effort to smooth the way for NATO enlargement. ..."
Statement by Walter Slocombe
Statement by Walter B. Slocombe, Under Secretary of Defense,
to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 29 April 1997
"... The CFE Flank Agreement retains the limits on ground
treaty-limited equipment (TLE) - tanks, armored combat vehicles,
and artillery - in the Russian and Ukrainian flank zone, but
applies them to a smaller area. The regions removed from the
original flank zone will be subject to new constraints and
additional verification and transparency measures. ...
...the CFE treaty must adjust to changes in Europe, particularly
to the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the
Soviet Union. The CFE treaty Flank Agreement is such an adjustment.
It is an important part of the NATO position for adapting the CFE
treaty to broader changes in Europe, which include the enlargement
of the Alliance. Approval of the Flank Agreement by 15 May is
essential to preserve the long-term benefits of the CFE treaty and
to keep the adaptation process on track.
...I would like to concentrate particularly on the impact of the
CFE Flank Agreement on the military security of the United States,
our NATO Allies, and our friends in the flank zone and surrounding
regions. It is the firm view of the Department of Defense that the
Flank Agreement serves the military security interests of all those
countries. Our security and theirs could be adversely affected if
the Flank Agreement is not approved.
Genesis of the Flank Issue
The flank region, one of four zones into which the CFE area of
application is divided, covers Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Greece,
Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and parts
of Ukraine and Russia. The flank limits were established during the
CFE treaty negotiations primarily to address Norwegian and Turkish
concerns that the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Central and
Eastern Europe might result in a significant build-up of Soviet
forces on or near their borders. The original flank limits allowed
the Soviet Union to hold within the northern and southern parts of
the flank zone up to 1850 tanks, 2775 artillery pieces and 1800
armored combat vehicles (ACVs) in active units, and up to 1000
tanks, 900 artillery and 800 ACVs in designated storage sites in
specific parts of the flank region.
Approximately one year after the CFE treaty was signed, the
Soviet Union dissolved. In May 1992, before the treaty entered into
force, the former Soviet States which succeeded to the CFE treaty
(Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakstan, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Georgia) signed the Tashkent Agreement on dividing the
equipment entitlements of the Soviet Union. Under that agreement,
Russian active units in the flank zone may hold no more than 700
tanks, 580 ACVs and 1280 artillery pieces. Russia was allocated
another 600 tanks, 800 ACVs, and 400 artillery pieces in Designated
Permanent Storage Sites in a specified part of the northern portion
of the flank region. Ukrainian active units in the flank zone are
limited to 280 tanks, 350 ACVs and 390 artillery pieces, with
another 400 tanks and 500 artillery pieces in Designated Permanent
Storage Sites. Russia and Ukraine are the only CFE States whose
treaty-limited equipment (TLE) is subject to geographic sub-limits
within their national territory.
Thus, Russian and Ukrainian forces were left with far less
flexibility in the flank region than had been given to the Soviet
Union. Beginning in the fall of 1992, both States asked the other
CFE parties for relief from the flank limits, which they felt were
too restrictive. Ukraine was particularly concerned about the
economic burden of having to move TLE, relocate units from its
flank zone, and build new infrastructure in the interior to receive
them. Russia shared that concern, but its primary focus was on the
need for a larger equipment entitlement in the flank - especially
ACVs - given the instabilities in the North Caucasus Military
District and Caucasus States.
Key Security Factors in the Flank Issue
As the United States and the other CFE parties considered Russia
and Ukraine's calls for relief from the flank limits, two security
concerns were paramount in our thinking. First, and most important,
was the need to retain the integrity of the CFE treaty. The Russian
military felt so strongly the need for additional TLE in the flank
zone that at various points their representatives threatened to
urge Russian withdrawal from the treaty if their flank demands were
not satisfied. An end to the CFE treaty would have greatly affected
the United States and our NATO Allies, by undermining a key element
of the new European security situation.
The Russian government's official position was that while Russia
would implement all of CFE's other provisions in good faith, it
would not be able to achieve compliance with the Article V (flank)
obligations without jeopardizing its security. Indeed, Russia's
overall compliance with its CFE obligations has been good. Russia
fulfilled its overall notified CFE reduction obligations on
schedule by November 1995. This involved the destruction or
conversion to non-military use of over 11,000 pieces of TLE,
including tanks, artillery, ACVs, combat aircraft and attack
helicopters. This Russian effort represented one-fifth of total CFE
equipment destruction - over 53,000 pieces of TLE by the 30 CFE
States. Despite that record, Allies believed that continued failure
by Russia to meet flank obligations would have the effect of
undermining the legitimacy of the flank regime as a whole, and
possibly of the treaty itself. This could have very serious
security implications for all members of the NATO Alliance,
especially our Allies in the flank region.
The second major consideration was that any adjustment to the
CFE flank arrangements must not adversely affect the security of
any CFE State or of any other State near the Russian flank zone.
The Russian flank limits did not affect the immediate military
security of the United States or most of our NATO Allies. However,
they did have such an immediate effect on Turkey and Norway, and on
friends in the region such as the Baltic States, Finland, Ukraine,
Moldova and the Caucasus States - and thus an important, if
indirect, effect on our security as well.
One Russian proposal during the flank negotiations - to
establish a CFE 'exclusion zone' in the south - was completely
unacceptable from both perspectives. Suspending important
provisions of the treaty in any part of the CFE area of application
would be contrary to the need to preserve the integrity of the
treaty as a whole. It also could potentially allow Russia to build
up forces in the southern part of the flank that could threaten
Turkey and the neighboring former Soviet States.
Concern for the military security of neighboring States also led
us to reject proposals that could lead to unacceptably large TLE
increases in either the southern or northern part of the Russian
flank zone. Finally, and very important, it was essential that any
solution to the flank problem be consistent with treaty
requirements regarding territorial sovereignty and host State
consent to stationing of forces.
Negotiation of the Flank Issue
Resolution of the flank issue took over two years and the
involvement of all CFE States. The US undertook intense
consultations with our NATO Allies (especially Turkey and Norway),
Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the
other treaty partners to achieve resolution of this difficult
issue. In addition, we consulted with interested non-treaty States,
including the neutral Nordic and Baltic States. As we did
throughout the original CFE negotiations, the NATO Allies adopted
common positions in the flank negotiations, which we presented to
Russia, Ukraine and the other CFE parties.
Consultations with particularly interested CFE parties took
place both multilaterally, within the CFE Joint Consultative Group
(JCG) in Vienna, among NATO Allies in NATO's High Level Task Force
on Arms Control, and bilaterally in capitals. Because of the
specific military concerns involved, the Department of Defense
worked actively with Ministry of Defense counterparts, particularly
with interested parties such as Turkey, Norway, and Russia.
In September 1995, NATO tabled a proposal at the JCG to resolve
the flank issue. The NATO proposal, on which the final Flank
Agreement is based, consisted of several specific elements:
* maintenance of the treaty flank limits;
* removal of some defined areas from the Russian and Ukrainian
flank zones, so that the treaty flank limits applied to a smaller
region, and TLE movement was encouraged toward the interior;
* constraints on TLE in the areas removed from the flank zone;
* additional transparency and verification measures in the 'old'
and 'new' flank zones.
The JCG agreed in November 1995 on the outlines for a Flank
Agreement, following those provided in the NATO proposal. Intensive
consultations and negotiations followed in Vienna and in capitals,
to conclude the details within that general outline. Final
agreement was reached at the CFE Review Conference in May 1996.
Elements of the Flank Agreement
Under the Flank Agreement, the following areas will no longer be
part of the flank zone:
* Odessa oblast in Ukraine;
* Volgograd and Astrakhan oblasts in southern Russia;
* An eastern part of the Rostov oblast in southern Russia;
* Kushchevskaya repair facility in southern Russia and a narrow
corridor in Krasnodar Kray leading to Kushchevskaya; and
* Pskov oblast in northern Russia.
Although those areas will not be subject to the flank limits,
they remain constrained by the overall sub-zonal limits of the CFE
treaty. In addition, sub-limits on ACVs are provided for Pskov
(600), Astrakhan (552); Volgograd (552); and eastern Rostov (310).
Finally, the Flank Agreement imposes overall constraints on the
Russian 'original flank' zone of 1800 tanks, 3700 ACVs, and 2400
artillery pieces. These overall constraints will limit the flow of
equipment from the revised flank area to the 'original flank'
Thus, Russian TLE holdings in the regions near Ukraine, the
Caucasus, Turkey, the Baltic and Nordic States will be constrained.
Furthermore, the Russian areas bordering the Black Sea (Krasnodar
Kray, western Rostov oblast) and the Baltic Sea/Barents Sea
(Leningrad Military District) remain part of the flank zone. Both
those features of the Flank Agreement meet important security
concerns of Turkey, Ukraine, the Baltic States and the Nordic
Russia has until 31 May 1999 to bring its accountable holdings
in the realigned flank zone into full compliance with the treaty's
flank limits. However, the Flank Agreement requires that Russia not
increase its TLE holdings in the original flank zone after 31 May
1996, under the provisional application of the agreement.
Provisional application has been extended to 15 May 1997. If all
CFE parties have not approved the agreement by then, it is subject
The Flank Agreement recognizes that Russia has the right to seek
to increase its TLE allowed in the realigned flank zone through one
or both of two mechanisms: reallocation of the Tashkent TLE quotas,
and use of the limited temporary deployments allowed under the
treaty. However, the agreement specifies that either outcome must
be achieved by means of free negotiations and with full respect for
the sovereignty of the States Parties involved. These provisions in
the Flank Agreement reinforce the provision in Article IV(5) of the
treaty itself that, within the context of the CFE treaty, a State
party cannot station forces on the territory of another State party
without its permission. Consequently, if a State party did so, it
would be considered a violation of the treaty.
Finally, the Flank Agreement provides for additional
transparency measures in the original flank zone, effective with
provisional application. Ten supplementary declared site
inspections may be conducted in the various areas removed from the
flank zone. In addition, data required under the CFE treaty
information exchange provisions must be provided every six months
for the original flank zone, rather than annually. For
Kushchevskaya, periodicity is increased to every quarter.
Flank Agreement and European Security
... When the United States and the other CFE parties entered
into the flank negotiations, we had several fundamental aims:
retain the integrity and viability of the CFE treaty; preserve the
security interests of all States Parties and regional
nonparticipating States near Russia's flank region; and accommodate
if possible Russia and Ukraine's legitimate TLE needs in the flank
zone. The Flank Agreement succeeded in meeting all those
objectives. It gives Russia and Ukraine needed flexibility in their
TLE deployments, but in a way that is limited in its geographic
scope, numerically constrained, transparent, and consistent with
their neighbors' security requirements. It ensures the continued
viability of the flank regime, which is a matter of critical
importance to our flank allies and friends in the region. ..."
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.
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