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US won’t rejoin Treaty on Open Skies: State dept

An Airbus A320 from Russian company Aeroflot. Cambodia is in talks to establish a direct air link with Russia and Aeroflot is seen as a likely candidate to operate the first direct flight between the two countries. AFP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

WASHINGTON D.C., May 28, 2021, TASS. The United States is not intending to rejoin the Treaty on Open Skies, a spokesperson for the US State Department told TASS on Thursday.

“The United States regrets that the Treaty on Open Skies has been undermined by Russia’s violations. In concluding its review of the treaty, the United States therefore does not intend to seek to rejoin it, given Russia’s failure to take any actions to return to compliance. Further, Russia’s behavior, including its recent actions with respect to Ukraine, is not that of a partner committed to confidence-building,” the spokesperson noted.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that Washington had notified Moscow about its decision to stay away from the treaty.

Washington withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies in November 2020, citing Moscow’s alleged breaches of its clauses. On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia was launching domestic procedures to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, justifying this step by a lack of progress in removing obstacles in order for the treaty to remain effective after Washington’s pullout. In April, the US Department of State announced that US authorities have not yet made a decision to return to the treaty. Washington has blamed Moscow for years for selectively adhering to the Treaty on Open Skies and violating a number of its provisions. Russia, in turn, has expressed grievances over Washington’s implementation of the treaty.

Russia’s lower house unilaterally passed the law to denounce the Treaty on Open Skies on May 19. The upper house is expected to hear the bill on June 2.

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 the 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 and managing crises. The treaty establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants.

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