The US’s announced withdrawal from the Open Skies agreement on military observation flights has caused international irritation and concern. Even if one shares the doubts about the compliance with the contractual clauses by Russia, one regrets the announcement of the USA, it said in a joint announcement of the foreign ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and further EU countries. The contract is a “crucial element for building trust” and does a lot to improve transparency and security.
Russian government officials also voiced criticism. Washington’s withdrawal from such important treaties was “another stage in the dismantling of international security,” said Deputy Secretary of State Sergei Ryabkov. Russia nevertheless feels committed to the treaty. According to this, Moscow does not plan to exit until further notice, according to which the agreement could at least continue between European NATO countries and Russia.
The U.S. government announced on Thursday that the U.S. is withdrawing from the open skies agreement between NATO countries and former members of the Warsaw Pact for mutual military air surveillance. Washington cites Moscow’s violations of the contract as the reason. That is why the US is no longer bound by the treaty. Russia denies the allegations: “We will show that the United States lies if they say something like this,” said Ryabkov. The United States would violate the treaty.
Stoltenberg hopes that the US will rethink its withdrawal
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia “for many years” has imposed flight restrictions that are not contractually agreed. “However, the US has said that if Russia returns to full compliance, it could rethink its withdrawal.” NATO allies are in talks with the Russian government to persuade them to return to the treaty as soon as possible, Stoltenberg said. The US is apparently to be persuaded to re-enter.
The Russian government said the US withdrawal is a reminder of Washington’s approach to the INF disarmament agreement last year. At that time, the United States also canceled the contract and blamed Russia for it, it said. Russia is always ready for negotiations, but does not want to be blackmailed.