18 June 202116:00

Foreign Ministry’s statement following the Russian Federation’s sending notifications to the states parties to the Treaty on Open Skies


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Federal Law No. 158-FZ On Denunciation by the Russian Federation of the Treaty on Open Skies of June 7, 2021 and Directives by the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1611-r of June 16, 2021 (on the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the group of States Parties to the Treaty on Open Skies) entered into force on June 18.

In this regard, the Russian side has sent notification as provided for by the Treaty to its depositories (Hungary and Canada) and other participating states through the embassies in their respective capitals, as well as through the delegations to the Open Skies Consultative Commission in Vienna.

Russia notified all States Parties of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies six months after the date the notification was sent. So, it will take effect on December 18, 2021. This step implies the simultaneous withdrawal from the group of States Parties formed under the Treaty, which includes our country and Belarus. All the participating states and, separately, our Belarusian partners were also informed about our withdrawal from this group (a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the group was concluded between Russia and Belarus in 1995, which will now be terminated as well).

In addition, the Treaty depositary states were requested to immediately inform all the States Parties of the corresponding notification and to convene, in the earliest possible date,  as stipulated by the Treaty (i.e., after 30 days), a conference of the States Parties in order to review the consequences of Russia’s withdrawal.

As a reminder, Russia, despite numerous violations of the Treaty by the United States, its allies and clients, has for many years not only made the greatest contribution into achieving the goals of the Treaty, but also spared no effort to preserve it. We were prepared to consider our partners’ concerns, but, of course, on a reciprocal basis.

The situation changed dramatically last year when the United States withdrew from the Treaty. Its participation was at some point a precondition for the Treaty to enter into force. This step grossly upset the balance of interests, rights and obligations of the States Parties. We have proposed specific solutions to the newly arisen problems, but the Western members of the Treaty have not shown any willingness to address them.

As a result, Russia had to begin domestic procedures for the denunciation of the Treaty. Here, too, we showed patience; we did not rush this process and kept the door open up to the last moment, counting on Washington’s good judgment. However, on May 27, the State Department notified the Russian Foreign Ministry of the American side’s decision not to return to the Treaty. Thus, the exit of our country had become imminent.

The responsibility for the break-up of the Treaty lies with the United States.

We know that the United States strongly advocates transparency in the military sphere only when it hopes to capitalise on it. When it comes to openness measures that affect their own territory, they backpedal and begin to create hurdles for the implementation of these agreements, without thinking about European security, or about their allies’ concerns, or about their own negotiability.

The history behind the Treaty on Open Skies prompts at least two conclusions.

First, attempts to achieve unilateral advantages while ignoring Russia’s interests and concerns are doomed.

Second, expectation that the “technical superiority” of the West will allow it to bypass Russia and leave it on the sidelines also did not materialise. This was the case with the transition to digital technologies when implementing the Treaty. It was energetically promoted by the Americans, but, in the end, our country outdid its Western partners by eight to nine years. We are positive it will play out the same way now that the United States is destroying the Treaty relying on national technical means of control.

It is high time for our Western colleagues to realise that it is impossible to ensure their security without taking into account Russia’s and its allies’ security interests. We will always be able to find an effective answer. But it is much better to work together constructively on strengthening European and global security, relying on, among other things, the experience of long years of productive cooperation between states under the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies.

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