MOSCOW, May 28. /TASS/. Washington’s refusal to return to the Open Skies Treaty (OST) proves that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to withdraw from that treaty was right, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday.
"The United States’ refusal to return to the Open Skies Treaty proves that the Russian president’s decision to launch domestic procedures to withdraw from the treaty was absolutely right. These procedures continue to be carried out: the bill on the OST denunciation that was passed by the State Duma (lower parliament house - TASS) will be considered by the Federation Council (upper house - TASS) international committee on May 31 and by the Council’s plenary session on June 2. After that, the document will be submitted to the Russian president for signing," the ministry said.
The ministry stressed that the entire responsibility for the collapse of the Open Skies Treaty (OST) rests with the United States. "Like a year ago, the US side tried to justify its destructive decision by far-fetched politicized claims to Russia which have nothing to do with the real state of things," it said. "The entire responsibility for the collapse of the Open Skies Treaty rests with the United States."
"Washington’s action has once again demonstrated disregard not only for European security but also for the interests of its own allies who asked it to revise the decision taken by the [45th US President] Donald Trump administration," the ministry stressed. "We are convinced that the United States has made yet another gross political mistake. It has lost a chance to make a positive contribution to the efforts towards enhancing Europe’s security, and its own security will not benefit from it either."
The ministry recalled that for years Russia had been doing its best to keep the Treaty in place. It gave time to the US administration to revise its decision. "Regrettably, Washington’s words do not meet its actions again. This can be said about transparency in the military sphere. The Americans call on others to be more transparent but close their own territory for observation," the Russian foreign ministry added.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday that her country had decided not to return to the Open Skies Treaty.
The Russian foreign ministry released a statement in mid-January informing that Russia was 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."
On May 19, The Russian State Duma unanimously passed a law on the denunciation of the Open Skies Treaty. The Federation Council will address this matter on June 2.
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.