NATO officials attempted to counter a Warsaw Pact propaganda offensive by disputing new East Bloc claims that a "rough parity" now exists between Eastern and Western conventional forces in Europe.
The NATO response Monday came as Hungary became the latest Warsaw Pact nation to announce unilateral military cuts, saying it would trim its armed forces by nearly 9 percent, or 9,300 troops.The Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and East Germany have already announced their own unilateral reductions in what some analysts see as a concerted propaganda campaign in preparation for a new round of conventional arms reduction talks in Europe.
While welcoming the release of new Warsaw Pact military data, a NATO spokesman Monday disputed claims that the two sides had achieved approximate balance, saying the East Bloc remains vastly superior in troops, tanks, aircraft and artillery.
"It is clear that the idea of a rough parity of forces in Europe does not correspond to the factual situation," the NATO spokesman said a day after the Polish news agency PAP, in an unprecedented move, released a detailed report on Warsaw Pact conventional strength.
PAP said the figures show an "approximate" military balance in conventional arms with NATO and called on the Western alliance to follow the East Bloc's example of unilateral reductions.
The PAP story placed the Warsaw Pact's troop strength at 3.6 million and listed NATO's as 3.7 million. It also showed the Warsaw Pact with 59,470 tanks, compared with 30,690 for NATO. It listed 7,876 combat aircraft, compared with 7,130 for NATO, and 102 "large ships" compared with 499 for NATO.
NATO, however, said last November its full-time military personnel of land forces in Europe amounted to 2.2 million against 3.1 million for the Warsaw Pact.
NATO said it had 16,424 main battle tanks in Europe, against 51,500 for the Warsaw Pact. It listed 4,153 armored infantry fighting vehicles for NATO against 22,400 for the Warsaw Pact and 35,351 other armored vehicles (light tanks, personnel carriers and command vehicles) against 71,000, and 3,977 combat aircraft compared with 8,250 in the East Bloc.