Russian upper house votes to pull out of overflight treaty

The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted to withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities after the US pulled out of the treaty.

MOSCOW – The upper house of the Russian parliament voted Wednesday to withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities following the US withdrawal from the treaty.

As a presidential candidate, Biden had criticized Trump’s return as “short-sighted”. Moscow has signaled its readiness to reverse the withdrawal process and stick to the 1992 treaty if the United States returns to the accord.

After the Russian Upper House voted to leave the treaty, it will now be up to Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign it. If Putin supports the exit, it will take effect in six months.

The Open Skies Treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the agreement’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information on military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have been operated under the treaty since it took effect in 2002, which aims to promote transparency and allow monitoring of arms control and other agreements.

Trump withdrew from the treaty last year, arguing that Russian breaches made it unable for Washington to remain a party. Washington completed its withdrawal from the treaty in November.

Moscow has condemned the US withdrawal, warning that it would destroy global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other countries, especially amid Russia-West tensions.

The EU has urged the US to reconsider its exit and called on Russia to remain in the treaty and lift flight restrictions, particularly over its western Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland.

Russia has emphasized that restrictions on observation flights imposed in the past were permissible under the treaty and noted that the US imposed more extensive restrictions on observation flights over Alaska.

As a condition of remaining in the agreement after the US withdrawal, Moscow has unsuccessfully insisted on guarantees from NATO allies that it would not hand over data collected during its observation flights over Russia to the US.


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