Russia says may remain in Open Skies accord if US rejoins
Russia said Tuesday it was prepared to stay in the Open Skies defence accord that allows signatories to conduct surveillance flights over each other’s territories if the United States rejoins.
The Open Skies Treaty, which Russia had said it was leaving in January after the United States quit last year, was agreed just after the Cold War to allow signatories to avoid nasty surprises by monitoring rival militaries.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Moscow could reverse its decision to exit the agreement if Washington signalled willingness to return.
“This is indeed so, and the door is open,” Ryabkov said.
“But our colleagues in Washington and other NATO capitals must understand that we will not wait indefinitely for them to finally gather their thoughts.”
Russia announced in January it was beginning protocols to leave Open Skies, citing a “lack of progress” on maintaining the functioning of the treaty after the United States withdrew from it last year.
Ryabkov’s announcement comes two weeks after President Vladimir Putin signed legislation extending for five years the New START treaty, a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States, days before its expiration.
The US withdrawal came against the wishes of Washington’s European allies, who remain attached to the treaty as part of their continent’s security architecture.