‘Dismantling global security’: Russian lawmakers dismiss US claims of Open Skies violations

High-ranking members of the Russian parliament have stated that Washington’s refusal to cooperate with Moscow on the Open Skies Treaty is based on unfounded charges as Russia has always stuck to its obligations.

The United States’ accusations in our address are completely unfounded. Russia is acting strictly in accordance with the existing agreements and their terms – the same applies to the treaty on destruction of chemical weapons,” Senator Yevgeniy Serebrennikov said in comments to RIA Novosti.

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Georgian servicemen stand at attention during an opening ceremony of the NATO-led military exercises

The senator reacted to the recent news that the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019, signed by President Donald Trump on Monday, contained a ban on using any funds appropriated by it “to modify any United States aircraft for purposes of implementing the Open Skies Treaty” in response to alleged previous violations of this treaty by Russia.

The head of the Russian Upper House Committee for International Relations, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, said that the US move to freeze its participation in the Open Skies Treaty must be scrutinized by the treaty’s consultative commission. He added that the treaty allowed any of its signatories to deny other participants a particular inspection and also to exit it completely, but had no provisions for a freeze of cooperation between any two of its members.

Therefore, in my opinion, the US decision contradicts its obligations fixed in the treaty and this must be considered by the Consultative Commission,” Kosachev was quoted as saying by TASS.

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Flag of the United States of America © Maksim Blinov

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Washington’s move to freeze cooperation with Russia on the Open Skies Treaty was an example of unilateral actions that were inacceptable for civilized dialogue between nations.

Apart from the extremely high military budget, de-facto the record high $ 719 billion, the new act contains a number of provisions that boil down to an attempt to impose on other nations the decisions of some well-known problems in the sphere of arms control. They should be regulated by talks and a common search for an acceptable solution at the negotiations table,” the diplomat was quoted as saying by Interfax on Tuesday.

We are constantly urging the US side to act like this, but unfortunately instead of some constructive replies we only witness new manifestations of the course aimed at dismantling the global security architecture and the existing system of agreements in the field of arms control,” he added.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and became one of the measures to build confidence in post-Cold War Europe. The parties to the treaty regularly conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory to openly collect information on each other’s military forces and activities.

Previously, the United States has accused Russia of violating the terms of the Open Skies Treaty by placing restrictions on overflights of its westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad. Russia’s Foreign Ministry argued that Moscow had complied with all its obligations under all international agreements including the Open Skies Treaty.

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