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Russia Says U.S. Has 1.5 Months To Salvage Open Skies Treaty

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Russia Says U.S. Has 1.5 Months To Salvage Open Skies Treaty

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The United States and its allies have just over a month and a half left to decide on the fate of the Open Skies Treaty, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

He noted that interdepartmental procedures are now being completed to submit a law on denunciation of the Treaty to Parliament.

“We expect that the relevant work will be carried out and completed. In this case, I do not undertake to predict the schedule of both chambers of the Federal Assembly, but we proceed from the assumption that all our further steps can be completed by the end of spring,” Ryabkov said.

According to him, this is exactly how much time remains for the West who “cherish the fate of the Open Skies Treaty.”

“After that, apparently, as they say,” turning back “will be extremely difficult,” he added.

The diplomat recalled that in accordance with the procedure, after the adoption of the law on denunciation of the treaty, Russia will transmit to its depositories a note on the upcoming withdrawal. Then the countdown of the six-month period will begin, after which Moscow will leave the treaty.

“The question to all those who in the West talks in the style of pike vests about how to be in this situation, the question is whether a month and a half is enough for them to nevertheless make one or another decision in favor of preserving the treaty or non-preservation . Responsibility for them”, concluded the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister.

Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Air Force decided to decommission aircraft that have been conducting observation flights over Russia for almost 30 years. The newspaper notes that the decision raises questions about whether President Joe Biden plans to return to the treaty.

The Open Skies Treaty, signed in 1992 and entered into force ten years later, has become one of the confidence-building measures in post-Cold War Europe. It allows member states to openly collect information about each other’s military forces and activities.

Until recently, 34 states were parties to the agreement, but at the end of May last year, Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the agreement. The reason for this, according to Washington, was repeated violations by Russia.

In particular, the United States accused Moscow of using the Open Skies Treaty as an instrument of “military coercion.” Russia has repeatedly denied these accusations.

On November 22nd, 2020, the United States completed its withdrawal procedure. And in mid-January, Russia announced that these actions upset the balance of interests of the participants and undermine the role of the OST as a tool for building confidence and security. Therefore, Moscow also decided to leave the treaty.

However, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, if the United States returns to full implementation of the treaty, then Russia will be ready to consider this situation in a constructive manner.

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