MOSCOW, May 28. /TASS/. Speaking with TASS on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticized Washington’s decision not to return to the Treaty on Open Skies as another political error.
"The United States has made another political mistake, dealing one more blow to the European security system. We gave them [the Americans] a chance, but they failed to take it," he pointed out.
"They continue to circulate fallacies about Russia’s alleged violations of the treaty, which is completely absurd. It’s useless to repeat our position, those willing to find out about it can do so easily, but the fact is that no one in Washington is willing to do that," Ryabkov emphasized.
A US Department of State spokesperson confirmed to TASS on Thursday that the United States did not plan to rejoin the Treaty on Open Skies "given Russia’s failure to take any actions to return to compliance." The spokesperson added that "Russia’s behavior, including its recent actions with respect to Ukraine, is not that of a partner committed to confidence-building."
Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on January 15 that Moscow was launching domestic procedures to pull out of the Treaty on Open Skies, citing the lack of progress in removing obstacles to the treaty’s continued function following Washington’s withdrawal in November 2020. The US Department of State said in April that the American authorities had not yet made a final decision on rejoining the deal.
For years, the US had blamed Russia for selectively implementing the Treaty on Open Skies and violating a number of its provisions. Moscow, in turn, laid claims against Washington’s implementation of the accord. On May 19, Russia’s State Duma (the lower house of parliament) unanimously passed a bill denouncing the treaty. The Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) is expected to consider the bill on June 2.
It depends on the Federal Assembly
Russian deputy foreign minister also noticed that "the dates for concluding the procedures for Russia’s denunciation of the Treaty on Open Skies now depend on the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) and the decision by President Vladimir Putin. That said, all this could be completed before the June summit".
"Anything is possible. I repeat, that does not depend on the Foreign Ministry’s stance. Now, that depends on the Federal Assembly, in this case, the Federation Council, because the State Duma has made its decision. And, of course, everything depends on the president," Ryabkov said responding to a question on the issue.
He confirmed that US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had informed him of Washington’s decision not to rejoin the treaty.
Ryabkov also stressed that Russia had not deviated from the schedule of procedures for exiting the accord. He recalled that back in January, when these procedures were launched, they were expected to be completed by the end of spring. "There are several important, practically final steps to be taken. On May 31, a meeting of the Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs will be held, during which the issue will be addressed. Then, a couple of days later, if everything goes well and the corresponding decisions are made by the committee, the law already approved by the State Duma will be submitted for approval by the Federation Council at a plenary session," he explained.
If approved, the document will be submitted to the president to be signed, the senior diplomat added. "These are the most important steps that still lie ahead. We fully abide by the schedule from this point of view. There is nothing unexpected for the United States, US allies, the United States’ partners or our allies," he concluded.
On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow had launched internal state procedures to leave the Treaty on Open Skies. The Russian diplomatic agency explained the move by the absence of progress in removing obstacles to the Treaty’s continuation under the new conditions following the US exit from the deal in November 2020. The US Department of State said in April that Washington had not decided yet on rejoining the Open Skies Treaty.
For years, Washington had been accusing Moscow of exercising a selective approach to implementing the Open Skies Treaty and violating a number of its provisions. Russia had been laying counterclaims against the US on the deal’s implementation as well.
On May 19, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) unanimously approved the law denouncing the Treaty on Open Skies. This legislation was included in the preliminary agenda of the next plenary session of Russia’s Federation Council scheduled to be held on June 2.