NATO’s Supreme Commander for Central Europe, General Helge Hansen, confirmed yesterday that Belarus is eliminating combat hardware as mandated by the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). On October 15 resumed the destruction of excess inventories, and is on its way toward meeting its obligations, Hansen said. Hansen in on a three-day visit to Belarus in which he hopes to drum up interest in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. He told the Belarus military that he would welcome their attendance at troop exercises under PfP, at least as observers, and their participation in command exercises. (15)
Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko suspended in February 1995 the elimination of combat hardware in excess of CFE ceilings, promised in August to resume the scrapping if the West covered the costs, and ultimately decided earlier this month to bring Belarus in compliance with the treaty. The deadline for compliance is November 16. Lukashenko is cool to PfP and openly opposes NATO’s enlargement, at times expressing suspicion of Poland; and he has been a leading supporter of Boris Yeltsin’s call for a CIS military bloc.
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