Benelux Statement on the suspension of the operation of the CFE Treaty

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) is an important part of the European arms control architecture and provides for limits on conventional heavy weapons, combined with a notification and verification regime. The Treaty was concluded in 1990 between the then NATO member states and the former Warsaw Pact members. In June 2023, Russia indicated that it would permanently withdraw from the Treaty. This withdrawal will take effect on November 7, 2023. Russia's withdrawal from this Treaty is a reason for the NATO allies that are CSE Treaty parties, and therefore for the Benelux countries as well, to also change their position with regard to this Treaty. Below you will find a joint Benelux statement.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg condemn Russia’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), a cornerstone of Europe’s security architecture. The Russian withdrawal comes at a time when Russia is waging an unprovoked, illegal and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. These Russian actions are once more leading to a further deterioration of the broader security architecture in Europe.

The CFE Treaty is an important legally binding instrument, which contributes to transparency, security and stability, and mutual confidence in the Euro-Atlantic area, if implemented by all State Parties.  Reciprocity is an essential part of this Treaty.  We cannot accept a situation whereby NATO Allies remain committed to the implementation of the Treaty, while Russia has withdrawn from it. 

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have therefore decided, together with other Allied States Parties, to suspend the operation of the CFE Treaty, in accordance with international law.  This suspension is reversible and is aimed at preserving the current arms control architecture.  Together with other NATO Allies, we will continue to consult on the implications of the current security environment.  

The three BENELUX countries remain firmly committed to conventional arms control as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security based on key principles and commitments, including reciprocity, transparency, and host nation consent.  Through the Benelux Arms Control Agency, we will continue to implement measures to reduce military risk, with States in the Euro-Atlantic area that share these principles and commitments.