The Treaty on Open Skies is among the backbone security agreements in Europe, and the United States withdrawal from it would seriously complicate the situation in the region, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday.
"This is one of the most important backbone agreements in the sphere of European military security," Grushko said. "Some agreements are not that widely talked about but their importance from the point of view of the overall military situation is hard to overestimate. It would be very bad for Europe’s military security if the United States decide to withdraw from this treaty under invented pretexts, and there are no real ones."
"It should be kept in mind that all treaties rest on elements of cooperation," he said, adding that the Open Skies Treaty is "a kind of brotherhood of pilots who take part in aerial observation missions, exchange experience, use other countries’ planes to fly over the territories of these countries." "Such things are hard to overestimate," TASS quoted him as saying.
The Russian diplomat noted that the results of aerial inspections are available to all signatory nations. "It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the Treaty of Open Skies is one of the few hoops that keep on fastening Europe’s military space from the point of view of its military security," Grushko emphasized.
Treaty on Open Skies
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 23 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations. The treaty establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. Now, the treaty has more than 30 signatory states. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.
Over the past several year, Washington has been accusing Moscow of exercising a selective approach to the treaty’s implementation and violating some of its provisions. Russia has been laying counter-claims to the United States. In 2017, Washington imposed restrictions on Russian observation flights over its territory under this treaty. This move was followed by Russia’s tit-for-tat response.