MOSCOW, May 22. /TASS/. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has slammed Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies as another step of US authorities to further tear down the international security architecture, he said via his social media profiles Friday.
"The decision announced by Washington to quit the Treaty on Open Skies in the future is another step of the US down the path of dismantling the international security architecture that took decades to lay down," he lamented.
According to Medvedev, Washington failed to clearly respond to Russia’s questions regarding the American violations of the treaty. "The US could not clearly answer our valid questions regarding their own numerous violations of the treaty," he added. "In particular, they introduced a maximum flight distance over Hawaii, restrictions on flights over the Aleutian Islands and set unfounded limits on altitude of flight for our observation jets. And the list can go on."
Medvedev expressed hope that other cornerstone agreements in the arms control sphere will not be damaged "in the heat of the American election campaigning." "Washington should be more responsible about the soon expiring New START treaty — the last active agreement on restriction and verification in the nuclear and missile sphere. As we have repeatedly underlined, Russia backs its preservation without any preconditions."
US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced the decision to quit the Treaty on Open Skies, that allowed participants to fly over any territories of the treaty signatories to supervise the military activity. Giving the reasoning behind this decision, the US side cited alleged numerous violations committed by Russia, while Moscow rejects these accusations and lays counterclaims. For instance, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova underlined that Russia itself has complaints against the US regarding the treaty which were voiced before.
Treaty on Open Skies
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 23 member-nations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was drafted with Moscow’s active participation. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the treaty is a major instrument of strengthening trust and security. The Open Skies’ main goals are to build transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations. The accord establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. Now, the treaty has more than 30 signatory states. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.
For the past several years, Washington has been accusing Moscow of carrying out the accord in a selective manner and of violating some of its provisions. Russia has also put forward some objections regarding the way the United States has been implementing the agreement. In 2017, Washington imposed some restrictions on Russian observation flights over its territory. Moscow came up with a tit-for-tat response some time later.