MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. NATO nations that are parties to the Open Skies Treaty must provide legal guarantees that data they collect during observation flights are not shared with the United States, Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said on Sunday.
He slammed the United Nations withdrawal from the Treaty as a "lopsided game." "Washington treacherously breaks agreements hiding behind false accusations that Russia violates the Treaty on Open Skies whereas other signatory nations to the Treaty that are NATO members declare their commitment to it and want to continue the practice of observation flights over our country," he said.
However, he said he doubted that their pledges and promises to strictly obey by all the provisions of the Open Skies Treaty would be in keeping with what they actually do. "Notable, the United States wants its allies sign documents on sharing such information and on barring Russian Open Skies missions from making their flights over US military facilities in Europe," Slutsky noted.
"Naturally, such a situation is inadmissible for Russia. So, we will have to act based on our own security interests. Other parties to the Open Skies Treaty that are concurrently members of the North Atlantic alliance must give clear legally-binding guarantees that they will not share data of their observation flights over Russia with Washington. I think our further steps on the Treaty on Open Skies should be based on that. It should be understood that Russia needs the Open Skies Treaty to an extent other partners need it," he stressed.
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 will come into effect in six months after May 22. Moscow denies these accusations saying its 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.