For most of the second half of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of troops from America and its NATO allies faced off against troops from the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in a Cold War standoff across Europe — each side fearing the other would attack and potentially set off World War III.
Eager to avoid such a holocaust, both sides spent years negotiating the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, or CFE, which entered into force in 1992. The treaty placed limits on the conventional military equipment and forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact states to prevent major military attacks and created a verification system to prevent cheating.
Europe is very different today. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact no longer exist. Many former communist nations that were members of the Warsaw Pact are now members of NATO, as are some of the nations carved out of the former Soviet Union.
Russia withdrew from the CFE Treaty in 2007, citing “extraordinary circumstances.” Since then, nations in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have engaged in talks seeking a replacement treaty to promote peace in Europe while reflecting today’s changed security reality. Unfortunately, the two sides are far apart.
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