After months of threats, Russia announced this morning that it is officially suspending its obligations under the Cold War-era Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. From a military point of view, this probably isn’t all that significant: I haven’t seen any one making a serious claim that the Russian Army has the genuine capacity to present a conventional threat NATO and the US.
From a diplomatic point of view, though, it represents a new low in the relationship between the US and Russia. Although you wouldn’t know it from the NY Times story, this decision seems to have been precipitated by an amendment added to the defense authorization bill currently wending its way through the Senate, which makes the missile defense system official US policy. The Kommersant article jumps the gun a bit–the vote on the amendment does not yet make it US law (it could get dropped in conference, though it seems unlikely)–but it is not a Good Thing.
I’m also very disappointed in the NYT’s coverage, which fails to make clear the mutual responsibility for the current state of affairs. I am not a Putin booster, but the relationship has also been grossly mishandled from the US side.
Update: A good discussion of the issues involved here.