BRUSSELS, May 22. /TASS/. There is no actual evidence to prove NATO’s declared commitment to the arms control regime, Russia’s mission to NATO told TASS after an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council called to discuss the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies.
"After the NATO Council meeting on May 22, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg came out with a statement on the situation around the Treaty on Open Skies. Notably, the statement two times points to the alliance’s commitment to preserving the efficiency of the international arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament regime. Regrettably, there are no facts to prove it, to put it mildly," the mission said. "On the contrary, we see a political decision, which continues the destructive policy towards breaking down international arms control agreements - collapse of the ABM Treaty, refusal to ratify the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and now from the Treaty on Open Skies. Obviously, it will hit the entire system of military security and stability in Europe."
The mission recalled that the United States "was the initiator of the development of the Open Skies Treaty and has been demonstrating its commitment to the treaty’s implementation." "The biggest number of applications for observation missions over Russia came from the United States each year. It requested 21 such flights in 2020, or more than in the previous years. Having a quota for 42 flights, Russia makes only six to eight flights over the United States, the rest of the flights are performed over Europe," the mission added.
US President Donald Trump declared on Thursday 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 and puts forward counterclaims. Thus, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia has already voiced its own claims to the United States concerning this treaty’s implementation. According to Vladimir Yermakov, director of the Russian foreign ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, Washington’s attempts to picture its withdrawal from the treaty as a reaction to Russia’s breaches are absolutely groundless.
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.