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US imposes restrictions on Russian inspection flights under Open Skies Treaty — diplomat

He did not elaborate on what exactly those measures are

WASHINGTON, September 29. /TASS/. The United States has imposed certain restrictions concerning inspection flights in its airspace carried out by Russia under the Open Skies Treaty, a US Department of State official told TASS on Thursday.

He did not elaborate on what exactly those measures are, saying only that the restrictions would to a certain extent limit Moscow’s "flexibilities" in implementing the treaty.

"Russia still has full access to all parts of the US territory," the official said. "However, these response measures would present challenges in mission planning and treaty implementation similar to those that the United States faces when conducting its Open Skies Treaty missions in Russia."

"After repeated unsuccessful attempts to engage Moscow diplomatically, both bilaterally and multilaterally through the OSCC and related forums in Vienna, we will no longer permit certain implementation flexibilities that we have extended to Russia," the source said, adding that Washington expected the move to "encourage Russia to engage more constructively about our concerns."

"These measures are reversible, should Russia come back into compliance with its Open Skies Treaty obligations," he continued.

According to the official, the United States remains committed to the successful implementation of the Open Skies Treaty and "will continue to work to improve its overall implementation."

"The United States honors and will continue to honor fully our Open Skies Treaty commitments and remains willing to resolve issues related to its implementation," he said.

According to the US diplomat, the United States and other states parties to the treaty have repeatedly expressed concern about Russia’s compliance.

"The United States and other states members of the treaty have repeatedly raised concerns with Russia about its compliance with the treaty’s obligations over a number of years," he said. "US concerns have been publicly documented since 2004 in our annual reports to Congress on compliance with arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agreements."

In June, the United States informed the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC) that it has "formally determined Russia to be in violation of its Open Skies Treaty obligations."

The Treaty on Open Skies, concluded in Helsinki on March 24, 1992 empowers the participating countries to dispatch monitoring planes to fly over any territories of each other for keeping an eye on military activities in accordance with the agreed observation mission quotas. The Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), established under the treaty’s terms, makes consensus decisions obligatory for all partakers.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday declared the intention of the US authorities to introduce restrictions on Russian planes’ flights over the territory of the United States. The measure, according to the daily, would follow restrictions Russia imposed on flights over the Kaliningrad Region.

The paper said the restrictions might be introduced on monitoring flights over Alaska and Hawaii.