MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. Moscow is shocked by the hypocritical calls of NATO and the EU against dismantling the Treaty on Open Skies in response to Russia’s decision to pull out from the treaty after Washington did the same, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during the Moscow Conference on International Security.
"The termination procedure has been launched, as you all know. The depositaries of the treaty have been notified. But the hypocritical reaction in response to our absolutely natural and pre-planned step from the side of NATO and the EU, who urged Moscow not to dismantle the treaty, as if they forgot Washington’s irreversible decision to withdraw from the treaty as the main reason behind the current crisis, is what is astounding to us," he said.
The Russian top diplomat stressed that the unilateral pullout of the US from the Treaty on Open Skies under false pretenses "blatantly violated the balance of interests" and put Russia "in an unequal position from the viewpoint of military transparency". "In these conditions, the further participation of Moscow in this treaty has fully lost its meaning," the minister said.
According to Lavrov, by attaching blame to Russia, the West fails to mention that in the past 10 years, it "blatantly neglected its obligations under the Treaty on Open Skies, closing down the majority of the territory of the US, Canada, the UK and France to Russian planes".
On May 19, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) unanimously approved the bill denouncing the Treaty on Open Skies, and on June 2, the Russian Federation Council did the same. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law on June 7.
The Russian government issued orders to accept the proposal for the country's pullout from the group of the Treaty on Open Skies signatories. The Foreign Ministry was instructed to notify Belarus and other participants of this decision. Also, the agreement on Russia-Belarus cooperation in this group is terminated. The instruction is effective as of the day the law on Russia's denunciation of the Treaty on Open Skies comes into force.