Russian diplomat lists all violations of Open Skies deal by the US, West

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MOSCOW, June 7./TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova published a post on her Telegram channel on Monday, listing all the violations of the Treaty on Open Skies by the US and Western nations.

“In 2015, the US made it impossible to conduct surveillance flights over its territory, refusing to offer a sufficient number of stop-overs for Russia’s Antonov An-30B planes. Moreover, it [the US] limited Russia’s ability to observe the Aleutian Islands, and they reduced the maximum flight range by cancelling overnight rest stops for Russian crews at refueling airfields,” she pointed out.

“The mission range over Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands was reduced, and restrictions were imposed on the altitude of observation flights, not envisaged by the Open Skies Treaty and which run counter to recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). What’s more, they also delayed visa issuance for the designated Russian personnel in violation of the timeframe established by the treaty,” the diplomat specified.

Zakharova noted that through its statements and activity, the US was goading other member countries, specifically Georgia, into violating the pact. “They were also sending old planes in bad technical condition for Open Skies missions, endangering the lives and wellbeing of American and Russian participants in the flights,” she went on to say.

Implepentation of the Treaty on Open Skies in Europe

Russia has also claims against some Western nations, Zakharova said, mentioning in particular the UK and France that failed to provide information since 2002 on the procedure of making observation flights over remote territories, thus preventing them from being carried out. “The UK, Norway and Canada imposed restrictions on the flight altitude not envisaged by the treaty, preventing the use of the configuration of Russian observation planes,” she stressed.

“Canada made observation flights over its territory and over the territory of the US impossible by refusing to provide an additional number of intermediate stops for Russia’s An-30B aircraft, and it also failed to meet the established timeframes and procedures for issuing visas to the designated personnel,” Zakharova said.

She also turned the spotlight on the bans and restrictions against flights over prohibited areas and in dangerous airspace imposed by Poland and Turkey thereby contradicting the provisions of the Open Skies Treaty and the recommendations by the ICAO. “Starting in 2012, Georgia stopped receiving Russian missions over its territory, crudely violating the treaty,” she stressed.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law to formalize Russia’s exit from the Treaty on Open Skies.

On May 19, Russia’s lower house of parliament unanimously adopted the bill. The upper house followed suit on June 2, also backing the measure unanimously.

On May 27, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman notified her Russian counterpart Sergey Ryabkov about Washington’s decision not to rejoin the treaty.