Russia will abide by Open Skies Treaty after US withdrawal

Moscow, May 22 (efe-epa).- Russia will abide by all the rules and commitments of the Open Skies Treaty while it remains in force, its deputy foreign minister said Friday after the United States withdrew from the agreement.

Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said: “We need a pragmatic approach. As long as the treaty is in force, we intend to fully follow all the rights and obligations that apply to us from this treaty.”

The senior Russian diplomat added that Moscow was “acting on the basis that all the other countries will act in the same way” and “take a conscientious approach to the obligations of parties to this treaty”.

US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the country was withdrawing from the treaty, a multilateral agreement to guarantee transparency regarding weapons control.

He accused Russia of corrupting the pact, which the country has denied, and also offered to negotiate a new accord with Moscow.

The official notification of Washington’s withdrawal is due to be presented on Friday and will take effect after six months.

Trump’s announcement was another blow to the agreement, which was created at the end of the Cold War to control the weaponry of the world’s two major nuclear powers, after Washington also withdrew of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with Moscow last year.

The Treaty on Open Skies, the implementation of which is monitored by the Vienna-based Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, has been in force since 2002 and allows its 34 signatory nations to overfly any part of one another’s territory, photographing from the air, with the aim of ensuring that other countries or rivals are not preparing military attacks.

The US has accused Russia of preventing air surveillance of its military exercises and blocking flights over regions where it is believed Moscow has nuclear weapons that could reach Europe.

Trump was particularly incensed that a Russian aircraft flew directly over his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017, according to The New York Times.

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