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May 23, 2020

Russia accuses US of flouting Open Skies Treaty

World

May 23, 2020

MOSCOW: Russia denied on Friday a US accusation that it had repeatedly violated the Open Skies treaty, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, and said it was Washington that had flouted the terms of the pact, foreign media reported.

Washington said on Thursday it would pull out of the 35-nation treaty within six months, the Trump administration’s latest move to withdraw from a major global accord.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington had not cited any facts to back up its accusation. He described what he said were U.S. violations of the treaty as “flagrant” and promised to provide detailed evidence of them to other signatory nations.

“We will spend more time having dialogue with these countries to show... with slides, with booklets, why the United States is lying in its claim that Russia is violating the Open Skies treaty, why the U.S. itself is violating this treaty, and what way forward Russia is offering,” Ryabkov said.

The disagreement between the two nuclear powers sours the atmosphere at a time when Washington is considering whether to agree to extend the 2010 New START accord, which imposes the last remaining limits on U.S. and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear arms.

The New START treaty expires in February.