MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Russia’s statement on the launch of domestic procedures to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies helps change the discussion of the document and opens up possibilities for a new agreement in the future, Chairman of International Valdai Discussion Club’s Foundation Board Andrey Bystritsky told TASS on Friday.
The expert stressed that the US initiated the termination of the treaty by announcing its withdrawal from it earlier, and Russia’s statement "is natural and clear" in this regard. "The Russian side is absolutely justified in informing that it is launching the procedures of pulling out from the treaty. I think that on the one hand, this is to be expected, and on the other hand, it helps to put the ball in someone else’s court in some way. If the partners have a proper reaction to this statement by the Russian side, in any case, the talks can be open," Bystritsky said.
According to him, there is a possibility of signing a new deal or modifying the current one after Russia’s step. The participation of the US is not absolutely necessary at the beginning stages of the new talks, he added. "I have already said that we need to learn to somehow live without the US, who are busy dealing with themselves. But let’s assume that control over US arms is a very important element of such an agreement. Perhaps, the development of a new agreement will start without the US, but of course, there cannot be a full-fledged treaty without them, considering the current security structure," he explained.
Bystritsky also reminded that nearly 30 years had passed since the signing of the Treaty on Open Skies, and in this period, the technologies related to the treaty’s procedures have changed significantly. "The future treaty is likely to take this into account," he added.
On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia is launching domestic procedures to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies. Once the procedures are completed, notifications will be sent to the treaty depositories, the ministry said.
Washington for years blamed Moscow for selectively implementing the Treaty on Open Skies and violating a number of its provisions. Russia, in turn, expressed grievances related to Washington’s implementation of the treaty. In 2017, Washington imposed restrictions on Russian observation flights over US territory, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Moscow. The US pulled out of the Treaty on Open Skies on November 22, 2020.