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Russia to make necessary steps over US withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty — ambassador

Antonov said that by quitting the treaty, the United States demonstrated the lack of political will to search for mutually acceptable solutions

WASHINGTON, July 9. /TASS/. Russia’s defense ministry and other relevant governmental agencies will take all the necessary measures over the United States’ withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, Russia’s Ambassador to US Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday.

In his words, after the US withdrawal, "there would be no possibility for us to see what is going on on the territory of the United States."

"It’s a very serious step made by the United States, and I’m sure that the ministry of defense and other agencies concerned will take appropriate steps in the end to protect the national interests of our motherland," he said at a video conference, organized by the Washington-based Center for the National Interest.

"I’m very much concerned by this action and I consider it very counter-productive," the Russian diplomat added.

Antonov said that by quitting the treaty, the United States demonstrated the lack of political will to search for mutually acceptable solutions.

US President Donald Trump declared on May 21 Washington was going to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which provides for inspection flights over member countries’ territories to monitor military activities. He motivated this step by Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a written statement that the decision to withdraw from the treaty would come into effect in six months after May 22. Moscow denies these accusations saying it is committed to the treaty and puts forward counterclaims.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 23 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations. The treaty 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.

On July 6, the delegates of the member-states of the Treaty on Open Skies held a video conference to discuss the impact of the United States’ withdrawal and the treaty’s future after that. Russia was represented at this event by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The senior diplomat said the sides failed to bring closer their positions at the meeting.