Russia accuses US of flouting Open Skies Treaty

A Russian Antonov-30B airplane, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft, designed for aerial photography is parked on the tarmac at a military airport in Melsbroek. (File Photo: Reuters)

Russia denied on Friday a US accusation that it had repeatedly violated the Open Skies treaty, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, and said it was Washington that had flouted the terms of the pact.

Washington said on Thursday it would pull out of the 35-nation treaty within six months, the Trump administration’s latest move to withdraw from a major global accord.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington had not cited any facts to back up its accusation. He described what he said were US violations of the treaty as “flagrant” and promised to provide detailed evidence of them to other signatory nations.

“We will spend more time having dialogue with these countries to show... with slides, with booklets, why the United States is lying in its claim that Russia is violating the Open Skies treaty, why the US itself is violating this treaty, and what way forward Russia is offering,” Ryabkov said.

In this June 28, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to participate in a group photo at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP)

In this June 28, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk to participate in a group photo at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP)

The disagreement between the two nuclear powers sours the atmosphere at a time when Washington is considering whether to agree to extend the 2010 New START accord, which imposes the last remaining limits on U.S. and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear arms.

The New START treaty expires in February.

Ryabkov said Washington’s proposed withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty mirrored the U.S. decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in August 2019.

“The collapse of that agreement, in many ways key to strategic stability, was another phase in the Americans' dismantling of the international security architecture,” said Ryabkov.

His colleague, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, earlier said Russia intends to fully comply with all its obligations under the Open Skies treaty despite the US move.

Read more:

Ten EU states to uphold Open Skies Treaty despite US move

Germany calls on US to reconsider Open Skies treaty pull-out

Trump announces plans to exit Open Skies Treaty, cites Russia’s violation of pact

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Last Update: Friday, 22 May 2020 KSA 21:40 - GMT 18:40
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