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15 Jan 2021 | 16:36

Russia to withdraw from Open Skies defence treaty

(Sharecast News) - Russia said it will withdraw from a defence treaty that allows member states to make surveillance flights over each other's territory. Washington decided to withdraw from the 2002 treaty in 2020.

The US withdrawal in November of that year "destroyed the balance of interests [the signatories] reached when the Treaty was signed, inflicted severe damage to its functioning and undermined the role of the Open Skies Treaty as a confidence and security building measure," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

According to Reuters, US President-elect Joe Biden criticised the US withdrawal from Open Skies at the time and said it increased the risk of conflict.

When the US announced its plans to pull out in May of 2020, the Trump administration blamed Moscow, claiming that it had banned US flights over certain areas of Russian territory. Russia denied the claims and said the Trump administration was just looking for an excuse.

"All Nato allies remain committed to effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation - which are essential for our security," Nato said in response. "We also remain open to dialogue in the Nato-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency."

Friday's news meant that there was only one remaining major defence pact between Russia and the west, which was set to lapse during the following month.
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