April 22, 2021

Russia ensures that it will abide by all the rules of the Open Skies Treaty

Russia affirmed today that it intends to abide by all the rules and commitments contemplated by the Open Skies Treaty as long as it exists, and hopes that the rest of the participants will also comply with it.

“The approach must be pragmatic. As long as the Treaty remains in force, we intend to comply with all the rules and commitments provided for in the agreement,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandr Grushkó.

The senior Russian diplomat said that Moscow starts from the position that the rest of the countries subscribed to the treaty will also fulfill “in good faith” their commitments.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, decided this Thursday to withdraw his country from the Open Skies Treaty, in force since 2002, noting that Russia constantly violates this agreement, something that the Russian authorities deny.

Trump is expected to communicate his decision to Russia on Friday and the withdrawal will be effective in six months, a senior US official, who requested anonymity, told Efe on Thursday.

The Open Skies Treaty, negotiated almost three decades ago and in force since 2002, allows Member States to fly over any part of the territory of another member state, photographing from the air, with a maximum resolution of 30 centimeters.

The agreement – which includes the United States, Russia, Canada and almost the entire European Union, including Spain – is one of the broadest international arms control efforts ever made with the aim of promoting transparency in military forces and activities. .

Precisely, in the framework of said treaty, last year an observation plane OS-135B from the United States made reconnaissance flights over Russia.

And in August 2017, a Russian Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft made an observation flight over the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon in Washington, international media reported at the time.

The US has long complained that Russia is preventing Russian military exercises from airborne monitoring and does not allow flights over cities where the United States believes Russia has nuclear weapons that could reach Europe.

According to the New York Times, US intelligence also believes that Russia may be using its overflights of the United States to identify key infrastructure in the country that may be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The withdrawal of the United States darkens the future of the only nuclear weapons reduction treaty between the two superpowers, the New START, which expires in 2021 and, despite the fact that Russia has proposed to renew it without conditions, Trump does not seem willing to extend it.


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