Despite the announcement by the United States to withdraw from the “Open Skies Treaty”, Russia wants to continue to stick to the NATO Treaty and former members of the Warsaw Pact for mutual military surveillance flights.
“As long as the contract remains in effect, (…) we want to fully comply with all rights and obligations arising from this agreement for us,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Gruschko on Friday to the Russian agency RIA Novosti. He hoped that the remaining countries would do this conscientiously.
The United States announced its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty on Thursday. US President Donald Trump justified this with Russia’s approach: Because Moscow no longer adheres to the commitments of the agreement, the United States is no longer bound by it. Russian politicians emphasized that the allegations are absolutely unfounded.
The agreement between the NATO countries and former members of the Warsaw Pact allows the 34 contracting states, among other things, several observation flights per year in the contractors’ airspace. The countries had agreed on mutual military surveillance “from Vancouver to Vladivostok” in 1992. The contract entered into force in 2002.
Russian senator Oleg Morosow emphasized that the procedure was only a political bluff from Washington. “Russia and China should be made to disarm unilaterally,” said the foreign politician. “We are always ready to negotiate, but not if you hold the gun to your chest.”