Russia Formally Withdraws from Open Skies Treaty

Tupolev Tu-214ON, Russian Air Force
Tupolev Tu-214ON is one kind of plane Russia uses for observation flights. (Photo: Oleg Belyakov / Wikimedia Commons)

The treaty allows the 33 party nations to conduct aerial reconnaissance over each other's territories.

"The Treaty fell victim to the infighting of various influence groups in the United States, where hawks gained the upper hand. Washington set the line towards destroying all the arms control agreements it had signed", said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement on Sunday, as the country is now formally no longer a party to the Treaty on Open Skies.

"The decades after the adoption of the Treaty showed that it has served well as a confidence and security building instrument and has created additional opportunities for an objective and unbiased assessment of the member states' military capabilities and activities. Russia is withdrawing from the Treaty with a feeling of having done a good job to keep up its viability". the Russian statement further reads. 

In May last year, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “America is more secure” because of the withdrawal, while adding: “Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations”.

Following a six-months agreed termination period, the U.S. was officially no longer a party to the treaty on November 22, 2020.

Both Russia and the United States have accused each other of violating the provisions of the treaty. On 20 September 2019, the U.S. and Canada were denied access to a military exercise in central Russia.

The 33 state parties to the Open Skies Treaty are Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

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