Politics, World

Russia launches procedure of withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

Vladimir Putin introduces bill to parliament

Elena Teslova  | 11.05.2021 - Update : 11.05.2021
Russia launches procedure of withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty


Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a bill Tuesday to parliament to withdraw Moscow from the Open Skies Treaty (OST).

Putin said that Russia initiated the procedure because of the US withdrawal.

"On November 22, 2020, the United States withdrew from the treaty under a far-fetched pretext, which significantly violated the balance of interests of the states - parties to the treaty, reached at the time of its signing.

"Thus, compliance with the treaty and its importance in building confidence and transparency were seriously damaged, and the national security of the Russian Federation was threatened," said Putin.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that if Russia remains a signatory to the treaty, the US will be able to receive sensitive information about Russia from its European allies and parties to the agreement while Russia will be deprived of the same opportunity.

He also said that Russia requested guarantees from European signatories of the treaty that they would not share information about Russia but failed to receive them.

The US launched the withdrawal process from the OST in November under the Trump administration, triggering a symmetrical response from Russia.

After Jos Biden was elected new US president, Moscow said it was ready to return to the treaty if Washington also reaffirms its commitment. But expectations have been subverted.

According to the procedure, Putin has to get approval from the Russian parliament -- the State Duma and the Council of Federation --and sign the withdrawal bill, sealing Russia's withdrawal from the agreement.

The Open Skies Treaty took effect on Jan. 1, 2002. It was drafted to enhance mutual understanding and transparency in military buildings and suggests the possibility of unarmed aerial surveillance flights above the entire territory of its participants.

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