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US willfully ruining strategic stability system - Russian diplomat

"They feel they are exclusive," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added

MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. The United States is willfully ruining the system of strategic stability, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.

"Strategic stability and all the documents supporting it, which set legal framework for activities and countries’ actions, have been systematically wrecked by the United States: the ABM Treaty (2202), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the refusal to ratify treaties on nuclear tests, and now the Treaty on Open Skies. The only thing left is the New START Treaty. It is probably the last thing left. So, these are not mere words, these are facts that show that the United States is willfully ruining the system of trategic stability," she said in an interview with the Voskresny Vecher (Sunday Evening) with Vladimir Solovyov program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

"Why are they doing that? They have explained many times - they feel they are exclusive," she 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.