Russian Federation to withdraw from Open Skies Treaty after USA departure

17 Janvier, 2021, 14:06 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories

The move comes after the United States left the treaty in November.

Russian Federation will announce its exit from the Open Skies treaty in the coming days, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, the Kommersant newspaper cited unnamed official sources as saying on Friday.

On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country was beginning procedures to leave the deal, as no progress had been made in removing the obstacles that hinder the treaty's functionality after the Trump administration pulled the USA out.

It allowed its almost three dozen signatories to carry out short-notice flights over one another's territory to monitor potential military operations. More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements.

Trump declared Washington's intention to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty in May, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party.

After a lengthy withdrawal process, the US exit from the treaty was finalized six months later, on November 21.

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Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament's upper house, said Moscow's decision to leave Open Skies was "predictable" as the other member states did not fulfil its terms.

NATO deputy spokesperson Piers Cazalet said Russia's "selective implementation" of its Open Skies duties had for a while undermined the treaty's contributions to regional security.

Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said Friday that Russia is willing to reverse its decision to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty if the US rejoins the agreement, the news outlet reported.

"The Trump doctrine of alienating our friends, withdrawing from agreements like the Iran deal and the Paris accord, and weakening our alliances makes America less safe", Beyer said at the time. Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences.

The announcement of Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty could happen on the eve of the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden on January 20. But negotiating the deal before the pact expires on February 5 appears extremely challenging.

Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on USA and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability.

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