19:00 GMT27 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Potential US withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies would deal a blow to the European security, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told Kommersant newspaper.

    "We will make a decision based on our national interests. In any case, we can say that this will be yet another blow to the European security", Grushko said, when asked what Russia would do if the United States left.

    At the same time, he remarked that the US had not notified Russia about its decision to leave yet.

    The treaty gives its 34 parties an opportunity to fly over other countries' territories to check on compliance with disarmament agreements. In October, Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that the White House was considering leaving the treaty. The Wall Street Journal reported then that President Donald Trump had already signed a document signifying US intention to leave.

    The Open Skies Treaty was signed in Helsinki on March 24, 1992. Currently, it comprises 34 member states. Russia ratified the treaty in May 2001. The parties to the treaty may conduct unmanned surveillance flights over each other's territories in order to gather information about military activities of concern.

    security, Open Skies Treaty, Russia, United States
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