NOVO-OGARYOVO, May 30. /TASS/. Russia needs to determine the final position on the US withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies, President Vladimir Putin said during an online meeting of the Russian Security Council on Saturday.
"We clearly need to determine the final position on the United States’ withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies. Besides, New START [the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] will expire soon but no serious talks are underway on the issue, which is important not only for us but for the entire world as well. We need to discuss this," Putin said, addressing the permanent members of the Russian Security Council.
The meeting involved Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, deputy head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Head of the Russian Presidential Office Anton Vaino, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin and Presidential Envoy for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov.
Open Skies Treaty
US President Donald Trump announced on May 21 that Washington intended to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows member states to conduct surveillance flights over one another's territories in order to verify arms control agreements. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo specified later that the withdrawal would take effect in six months’ time. The US authorities cited Russia’s alleged violations of the treaty to justify the decision. Moscow has repeatedly rejected such allegations.
New START, which came into force in 2011, limits Russia and the US to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers. The Treaty is set to remain in effect for ten years (until 2021) unless a new document is signed to replace it. The document can also be extended for no more than five years (that is, until 2026) by mutual agreement of the parties.