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Russia Warns United States Not To Quit Open Skies Treaty

Feb. 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Director of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Vladimir Ermakov, warned in an interview with Sputnik today that Russia will be forced to take countermeasures if the United States withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty, on the pretext that Russia is violating it.

“The U.S. has not made any official statement on its plans to leave the Open Skies Treaty. However, we regret its possible intention to do so over Russia’s alleged violations. If Washington decides to abandon the deal, we will be forced to provide an adequate response. We believe it is too early to discuss publicly what measures we could implement,”

Ermakov said, reaffirming Russia’s intent to save the treaty as “one of the few remaining pillars of European security architecture.”

“We have communicated our stance to our U.S. colleagues. Unfortunately, the U.S. keeps repeating their traditional and absolutely groundless claims of Russia’s alleged non-compliance with the treaty, instead of thoroughly analyzing the situation and ways to preserve the agreement,” the official argued.

In response to media questions on Jan. 17, the Foreign Ministry had raised Russia’s commitment to maintaining the Open Skies Treaty, stating,

“We deem it necessary to settle existing differences on the treaty’s implementation at talks with due consideration for the concerns of all sides. We are ready for joint practical work with all participants in the treaty.

“At the same time, U.S. withdrawal from the treaty will deal a serious blow at the entire system of European security and will compel us to take appropriate steps.”

The Treaty on Open Skies, signed on March 24, 1992, and which went into effect in 2012; it currently has 35 participants. The treaty gives its parties an opportunity to fly over other countries’ territories, in scheduled flights with unmanned aerial craft, to check on compliance with disarmament agreements.

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