Soviet bloc countries said Monday the first-ever release of detailed Warsaw Pact troop and armament figures should lead to "stronger trust between East and West," but NATO rejected claims that the two sides' conventional forces were roughly even.
"It is clear that the idea of a rough parity of forces in Europe does not correspond to the factual situation," a NATO spokesman said a day after the Warsaw Pact figures were released by the Polish news agency PAP."It is . . . of particular significance that the Soviet figures admit to a 2-to-1 advantage in tanks and a 3-to-1 advantage in armored personnel carriers," said the spokesman, speaking from NATO headquarters in Brussels.
PAP, however, said the figures show an "approximate" military balance in conventional arms with NATO and called on the Western alliance to follow its example of unilateral reductions.
"For the first time the official data on the military potential of the socialist defensive coalition were disclosed," PAP commentator Stanislaw Masztanowicz said in the statement Sunday night. "The significance of the fact can hardly be overestimated. It manifests a new stage in international relations characterized by glasnost in information policy."
The new figures for troops and weaponry as of July 1, 1988, were released before a new round of 23-nation arms talks, which are expected to begin in March in Vienna.
Western analysts suggested the release of the figures was part of a propaganda campaign leading up to the new talks.
In Moscow, a Soviet military spokesman, Major-General Yuri Lebedev, said the release of Warsaw Pact troop figures should make it easier for the West to "grasp and appreciate" recent offers of unilateral arms cuts made by the Soviet Union and several East Bloc countries.
"The publication of data regarding the Warsaw Pact's armed forces and armaments is at the same time another long stride to greater openness in the military field, which by itself is an essential factor for stronger trust between East and West," Tass quoted Lebedev as saying.
In East Berlin, East Germany's Defense Minister Heinz Kessler Monday urged NATO to reduce its armed forces and "dispense with the so-called modernization of its nuclear weapons carriers."
In the PAP story, which was accompanied by long tables of Warsaw Pact data, the pact's seven defense ministers listed the relative strengths of the two alliances.
The Warsaw Pact defense ministers last met in Sofia Dec. 17, during which they discussed the data on the pact's forces and basic weapons and agreed to release a declaration on the matter "in due course."
"Having taken all of its components into account, the military balance in Europe can be characterized as an approximate one, not providing this or another side with a clear military preponderance," the statement said.
"At the same time, it is necessary to radically cut back the currently high level of armed forces and armaments in Europe to provide for stability corresponding to the principle of reasonable defense sufficiency."
The Warsaw Pact listed its total troop strength in "Europe and adjoining seas" at 3.6 million, not including police or border guards. It listed NATO's as 3.7 million. The tables showed the Warsaw Pact with 59,470 tanks, compared with 30,690 for NATO.