Russia withdraws from Open Skies Treaty after US departure

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia said Friday it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing observation flights over military facilities following the U.S. exit from the pact.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states,” adding that Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington’s allies.

The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow is now launching the relevant procedural moves to withdraw from the pact.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared Washington’s intention to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty in May, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. The U.S. completed its withdrawal from the pact in November.

Russia denied breaching the treaty, which came into force in 2002. The European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider and called on Russia to stay in the pact.

Moscow has argued that the U.S. withdrawal will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations, particularly amid Russia-West tensions after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.

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