(Open Skies Treaty/NATO/Russia) NATO open for transparency dialogue with Russia over its withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty (TASS)

NATO is ready for dialogue with Russia on military transparency and risk reduction within the Russia-NATO Council following Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, NATO’s deputy spokesperson Piers Cazalet told TASS on Friday.

“We have taken note of Russia’s stated intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.” He said. “Allies continue to consult closely on the future of arms control. We also remain open to dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency.”

Cazalet once again repeated the United States’ allegations that Russia was not fully implementing the Open Skies Treaty that had been used by Washington as a pretext to withdraw from that treaty in 2020. “Russia’s selective implementation of its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty has for some time undermined the contribution of this important treaty to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. All NATO Allies remain committed to effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation – which are essential for our security,” the NATO spokesperson said.

The Russian foreign ministry released a statement on Friday informing that Russia is beginning domestic procedures to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty “over the lack of progress in what concerns the removal of obstacles for its continuation in the new conditions.” According to the statement, Russia will issue a corresponding notification to the depositories after these procedures are over.

For years, Washington had been accusing Moscow of exercising a selective approach to the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty and violating a number of its provisions. Russia had been laying counter claims. In 2017, Washington imposed a number of restrictions on Russia’s observation flights over the US territory. Moscow gave a tit-for-tat response. In November 2020, the United States withdrew from the treaty.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 27 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), known as Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) before 1995. 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. The treaty came into effect from January 1, 2002 after being ratified by 20 countries. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.