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NEW YORK, April 21, /ITAR-TASS/. The U.S. position on the Open Skies Treaty is “very unconstructive”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday, April 21, commenting on the U.S. decision to cancel an observation flight over Russia.
On April 14, a joint U.S.-Czech mission failed to arrive at the Kubina entry point in Russia at the agreed time (16:00 Moscow time). “At the request of the American side of the mission the arrival time was postponed for 24 hours. However, neither the Americans nor the Czechs showed up in Kubinka. When a new request for a postponement came, we rejected it for good reason, taking into account, among other things, the fact that Russia had already sustained certain costs while waiting for the American observation plane,” Lukashevich said.
“These costs were incurred mainly by engaging our resources for providing practical support to the mission,” he added.
A new mission of the two abovementioned countries is to begin in Russia these days. “We have nothing to hide. If everything goes according to plan, our American and Czech colleagues will have enough opportunities to see that Russia is not concentrating troops on the border with Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.
However, this raises the question of reciprocity from the United States. “We have to state with regret that the American side, the only of the parties to the Treaty on Open Skies, has long been adhering to a very unconstructive position on the examination of our digital observation equipment by putting forth requirements that are not provided for in the Treaty,” he said.
Moscow hopes that “the implementation of the Treaty will be safeguarded against the negative impact of considerations of expediency and that its members will strictly abide by their obligations,” Lukashevich said.
The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties. It establishes a programme of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities.