Open Skies Treaty to collapse if US talks allies into quitting it | Eurasia Diary -

5 August, Wednesday

Open Skies Treaty to collapse if US talks allies into quitting it

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After withdrawing from the Treaty on Open Skies, the United States might persuade their allies to pull out, and then the treaty will collapse, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a televised interview on Friday, reports citing Tass News.

"Having withdrawn from the Treaty, the United States is likely, due to their recent conduct, to try to lure some of their allies out. Should this happen, the treaty will certainly be doomed and will collapse," he said.

The deputy foreign minister says that Russia thinks the US move to withdraw from the treaty is unjustified and their motives are unacceptable.

"An attempt to put the blame for this decision on Russia is unscrupulous. We underline that we have a variety of serious claims against the US, its allies and some states that are US so-called ‘clients’ in how they are compliant or not fully compliant with the treaty," he added.

Ryabkov pointed out that the United States is guided by a policy of maximum freedom from any restrictions in the arms control sector.

"They think that it is in principle acceptable to move on looking for ways ensuring their undeniable military superiority. They will not achieve that, as any action has an equal reaction," the diplomat stressed. "We have proved many times, including in recent years, that we have the most effective system to ensure our security with the help of military and technological means. Nobody should doubt that."

US President Donald Trump declared on May 21 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 would come into effect in six months after May 22. Moscow denies these accusations saying it is committed to the treaty and puts forward counterclaims.

On July 6, the delegates of the member-states of the Treaty on Open Skies held a video conference to discuss the impact of the United States’ withdrawal and the treaty’s future after that. Russia was represented at this event by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The senior diplomat said the sides failed to bring closer their positions at the meeting.

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.

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