Putin may significantly rearm after ripping up Cold War treaty, expert warns

Russia could seek to “significantly rearm” after ripping up a landmark Cold War treaty previously agreed to limit the amount of conventional forces in Europe, an expert has warned.

William Freer, national security research fellow at the Council on Geostrategy, told Express.co.uk that the West should “monitor Russian rearmament carefully and react with increased defence spending ahead of time before they are caught napping again”.

Many Western nations were accused of being “caught napping” by Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine last February. Tensions have continued to rise since then between Moscow and NATO.

Russia formally withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) last night, forcing NATO to confirm it would in turn suspend its participation with the pact “for as long as necessary”.

Freer said that Moscow’s decision “changes little for now” given it had suspended its own participation since 2007.

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However, he pointed out that Russia could attempt to “significantly re-arm in the aftermath of their botched invasion of Ukraine, now unencumbered by the need to even pretend to care about the CFE”.

He said: “Russia’s formal withdrawal shows that the era of growing tensions kept in check essentially by Western appeasement is now at an end. Relations are broken and they will not go back to the way that they were, at least not with Putin in charge.

“This is the symbolic burning of a bridge that had already been closed for 15 years.”

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In recent days, Vladimir Putin has scrapped Russia’s involvement in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Moscow also tested a submarine-launched nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile.

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