22 May 2020 10:42

Russia's response to U.S.' pullout from Treaty on Open Skies to be guided by goals of national security defense - MP Slutsky

MOSCOW. May 22 (Interfax) - Russia has a plan of how to respond to U.S. steps with regard to the Treaty on Open Skies, Chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Thursday.

"Of course, Russia has a plan of response to American steps relating to the Treaty on Open Skies, though this treaty is multilateral," Slutsky said.

"We'll make a balanced decision in full compliance with the objectives of national security defense," he said.

"The U.S.' withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is a destructive decision, which could jeopardize the military security system on the European continent," Slutsky said.

"Russia has never violated the treaty, once again, unlike the U.S., which is simply keeping silent about multiple problems concerning the implementation of this treaty," he said.

"Now, the actual 'added value' of the treaty will depend, among other factors, on the reaction of the U.S.' European allies in the NATO bloc to the American administration's statement announcing the withdrawal from the treaty, as well as it will depend on whether they follow in Washington's footsteps," he said.

At the same time, "the Treaty on Open Skies is one of the few remaining instruments of ensuring mutual trust, predictability, and transparency," Slutsky said.

The U.S. said on Thursday that it intends to withdraw from the treaty in six months' time.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in Helsinki on March 24, 1992 by representatives of 23 member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Russia ratified the treaty on May 26, 2001. Today, 34 countries are signatories to the treaty, which allows them to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over each other's territory to monitor military activity.