MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russia’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty (OST) in no way is a demonstrative step for the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.
"I was surprised to hear the editor-in-chief of one of our liberal media outlet saying that Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies was a kind of demonstration for the future US administration. It is not a serious analysis, moreover, it is a wrong interpretation," she said in an interview with the Voskresny Vecher (Sunday Evening) with Vladimir Solovyov program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.
Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty was a response to the decisions of incumbent President Donald Trump’s administration that had been taken well before the newly elected president’s inauguration, she explained.
"It was their decision, hence, we are closing this topic when they are still in office. It is in no way a signal for the future. It is the closure of the dossier that was topical under the previous administration. We are not seeking to match anyone," she underscored.
The Russian foreign ministry released a statement on Friday informing that Russia is beginning domestic procedures to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty "over the lack of progress in what concerns the removal of obstacles for its continuation in the new conditions." According to the statement, Russia will issue a corresponding notification to the depositories after these procedures are over.
For years, Washington had been accusing Moscow of exercising a selective approach to the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty and violating a number of its provisions. Russia had been laying counter claims. In 2017, Washington imposed a number of restrictions on Russia’s observation flights over the US territory. Moscow gave a tit-for-tat response. In November 2020, the United States withdrew from the treaty.
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 27 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), known as Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) before 1995. 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. The treaty came into effect from January 1, 2002 after being ratified by 20 countries. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.