23 Oct 2018 21:59

Distribution of quotas for 2019 observation flights does not remove problem of Tbilisi's unlawful ban on Russia's Open Skies missions - Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) - Russia supports the decision of the Open Skies Consultative Commission in Vienna to distribute active quotas for observation flights in 2019 and expresses its hope for a resumption of full-fledged implementation of the Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The year-long break in their implementation was caused by Tbilisi's gross, totally unjustifiable breach of its obligations, the irresponsible behavior of its protectors, and the passiveness of a number of other signatories to the Treaty," the ministry stated on its website on Tuesday.

"Someone was hoping to finally ruin the OS Treaty or at least freeze it, depending on the specifics of their internal political situation.

"However, we did not allow such intentions to be realized. First, the Russian delegation's statement of April 23 of this year knocked out the last of our opponents' arguments which at least in some way were relating to the Treaty, and clearly showed everyone the destructive nature of their position. Then, on September 28, we sent a notice of the active quota distribution for next year. It did not contain a request for observation flights over Georgia in 2019.

"[Russia] could survive without OS flights, but a continuation of the 'no-flight period' would sooner or later not just undermine its viability but also lead to the loss of one of the pillars of European security, growing mutual distrust, and the dangerous escalation of military-political tensions."

The decision to distribute active quotas for 2019 observation flights does not eliminate the problem of the unlawful ban introduced by Tbilisi on the Russian OS missions over Georgia, which set a precedent for a selective discharge of obligations under the Treaty, the ministry said.

"We reserve the right to revisit this issue and take steps to protect Russia's rights as a signatory to the OS Treaty. Respected partners should not count that our country's patience will be endless. We urge them to remember the lessons of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe."