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Russia’s war of nerves with the West intensified last week with Moscow’s formal suspension of its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. Russia is using the CFE to remind NATO, and its European members in particular, of Moscow’s strategic concerns as it hopes to drive a wedge between the two sides of the Atlantic.

The CFE was negotiated toward the end of the Cold War to limit conventional force deployments in Europe and western Russia. It was modified after the collapse of the Soviet Union to reflect the new political landscape, but only Russia ratified the new version. NATO members demanded that Russia first honor its obligations by withdrawing forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Russian officials insist all troops are gone — or argue that only peacekeeping missions are in place. They refuse international inspections that would confirm either assertion.

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