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(Open Skies Treaty/Russia) Open Skies Treaty to crumble after Russia’s withdrawal, says expert (TASS)

The Treaty on Open Skies will lose its significance and will practically stop functioning after Russia pulls out of it, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, Andrey Kortunov told TASS Friday.

According to Kortunov, Russia’s statement on the Open Skies Treaty withdrawal should not come as a surprise to anyone since it has been repeatedly said that there is no point in the treaty for Moscow after Washington’s walkout. He recalled that the US had not lost much by quitting the agreement because it could still collect data from its NATO allies that remained in the treaty without conducting its own flights. Meanwhile, Russia lost access to the US airspace, which significantly lowered its capabilities of monitoring the situation in the country.

“Based on this, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin said that the conditions of cooperation in this treaty had become very unfavorable and unequal for Russia without the US. Therefore naturally there were those who hoped that Russia would not exit [the agreement]. However, the decision was made and it’s a very logical one,” he told TASS.

On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia launches withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies. Other parties will receive the relevant notification when the domestic procedures are completed.

Washington kept accusing Moscow of selective compliance with the treaty and violation of a number of the treaty clauses for several years. Russia has its own complaints to Washington regarding the treaty implementation. In 2017, Washington announced introduction of certain restrictions against Russian surveillance flights over US territory, prompting Russia to respond in a mirror-like fashion. The US pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty on November 22.