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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Ready to Return to Open Skies Treaty, Upper House Speaker Says

Sputnik News

08:05 GMT 02.03.2021

Moscow is ready to return to the Treaty on Open Skies, which enables the signatories to carry out unarmed military surveillance flights, but the US has not yet made its final decision on the agreement, upper chamber speaker Valentina Matviyenko said in an interview with Sputnik.

"Russia said that if the United States returns to this treaty, we will return too. The United States says it is studying and considering it and has not yet decided", Matviyenko said.

At the same time, the speaker noted she is sceptical about a possible restoration of the Russian-US Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

"As for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, I believe it was buried, and it would be extremely difficult to revive it", Matviyenko noted.

Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-214ON which will be operated under the Open Skies treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and became effective 10 years later. The document allowed 34 participating nations to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other's territories.

However, on 21 May 2020, then-US President Donald Trump said his country would pull out of the Open Skies Treaty due to alleged violations by Moscow, something that Russia denied, stressing that all of the agreement-related issues Washington raised could be discussed within the framework of the Open Skies Consultative Commission.

US participation in the treaty officially ended on 22 November, prompting Russia's withdrawal from the accord.

A year before, the US pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Addressing the withdrawal, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a new initiative saying that Russia was ready to abstain from deploying 9M729 missiles on its territory in Europe — if NATO would make reciprocal moves, but it was left unanswered by Washington.

© Sputnik

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