22:27 GMT05 August 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia will officially withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty on 18 December, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday, adding that Moscow has notified the signatories of the agreement about its withdrawal.

    "Russia has notified all participating states of its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty six months after the notification was sent. Thus, this will happen on December 18," the ministry said in a statement.

    Russia also requested the state parties of the treaty to convene a conference as soon as possible to consider the consequences of its withdrawal from the agreement. In addition, Moscow said that the US is responsible for the collapse of the Open Skies Treaty.

    "The expectation that the ‘technical superiority of the West will make it possible to bypass Russia and leave it on the sidelines is also not justified. This was the case with the transition to digital technologies in the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty - it was actively promoted by the Americans, and as a result, our country was ahead of its Western partners by 8-9 years. We are sure that it will be the same now, when the United States is destroying the treaty, relying on national technical means of control," the ministry said.

    NATO reacted to the news by saying that it deeply regrets Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.

    "We deeply regret the notification by Russia of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, an important legally binding instrument which contributes to transparency, security and stability, and mutual confidence in the Euro-Atlantic area," NATO said in a statement.

    The alliance added that it is seeking a "constructive relationship" with Russia when its actions "make that possible."

    "We urge Russia to use the remaining six months before its withdrawal takes effect to reconsider its decision and return to full compliance with the Treaty on Open Skies," NATO added.
    Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-214ON which will be operated under the Open Skies treaty
    Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-214ON which will be operated under the Open Skies treaty

    In 2019, the US notified Russia it would not return to the Open Skies Treaty, which was signed in 1992 and allowed the signatories to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other's territory on short notice. Washington said it was pulling out of the treaty due to alleged violations by Moscow, something that Russia denied, stressing that all of the agreement-related issues Washington raised could be discussed within the framework of the Open Skies Consultative Commission. 

    In May 2020, the United States started the withdrawal procedure, which was completed on 22 November. On 15 January, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the start of relevant reciprocal procedures.

    Russia, Treaty on Open Skies, US
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