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Open Skies Treaty data sharing with US would cause problems, senior diplomat warns

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that the US reasons for withdrawal from the treaty are illogical, chaotic and ridiculous

MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has warned of political and legal problems if allies share data obtained under the Open Skies Treaty after Washington’s withdrawal.

"I don’t see any problems from the viewpoint of consequences for our security after the US withdrawal from this treaty, whether they will be a party to this treaty or not. If the treaty is preserved, their allies will probably find ways to share information with the United States, and vice versa," Ryabkov said in an interview with Bolshaya Igra (Big Game) on Channel One. "Although in our opinion, this will be extremely troublesome from the viewpoint of politics and law," Ryabkov said, noting that Moscow is "thinking about this now."

The senior diplomat noted that the US reasons for withdrawal from the treaty are illogical, chaotic and ridiculous. Ryabkov laughed at Washington’s claims that the Russia’s Open Skies planes were used as spotters for artillery and missile fire.

Washington also forgets that the observation flights it conducted were not over parks and beaches, he said. "I want to call on our US colleagues to at first draw up a list of those sites, which were pictured by them and their allied missions of the Open Skies in Russia and present them. Then we will see who flew over golf fields and so on and who obtained more information," he said, commenting on US claims that the Russian pilots had allegedly flown over Trump’s golf club.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s intention to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows the signatories to conduct flights over each other’s territory to observe military activity. In his statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US decision would enter force in six months. The US side cites alleged Russian violation of the Treaty as a pretext for its withdrawal. Moscow denies all allegations, stating that it continues to adhere to the Treaty, and puts forth its own accusations against the US.