21:53 GMT30 May 2020
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    KHABAROVSK, Russia (Sputnik) - The United States continues to try to pressure Russia even despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Russian Deputy Foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday.

    "We have reached a certain new ground in the various areas [of cooperation], including within the context of mutual assistance in the fight against the pandemic via reciprocal humanitarian shipments, which has to be welcomed. However, there are continuous attempts to apply political, psychological, and sanctions-related pressure on Russia on the backdrop of that", Ryabkov told Russia's Channel One.

    Speaking on the US withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, Ryabkov said there may be some problems concerning the information received from observation flights over Russia's territory.

    "If the treaty survives their [US] allies will likely find ways to share information with the United States and vice versa, although this will be extremely problematic on the political and legal grounds, in our opinion", Ryabkov added.

    With things being the way they are now, it is not unthinkable that the administration of US President Donald Trump will allow the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to expire in February 2021, according to the deputy foreign minister.

    "The Trump administration withdraws from one treaty after another. The Trump administration will likely allow the 2010 START agreement to expire", he said.

    The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and became effective ten years later. It allows 34 participating countries to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other's territories. On Thursday, Trump declared that Washington was pulling out from the treaty and would not rejoin it "until they [Russia] adhere."

    The New START agreement was signed in 2010 by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart at the time, Barack Obama. It is currently the only arms control agreement between two countries that is still in force.

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    pressure, coronavirus, COVID-19, United States, Russia
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