Russia ‘ready to retaliate’ if US quits Open Skies Treaty
Russia has warned of retaliatory measures in case the United States withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty, a 17-year-old agreement that allows both countries to conduct surveillance flights over each other’s territory.
Citing a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, the state-run RIA news agency said late on Wednesday that Washington’s potential exit from the Open Skies Treaty would deal a blow to global security, but Moscow had drawn up a response in case it happened.
“Of course, we’ve got everything ready. You’ll find out,” Vladimir Ermakov, head of the ministry’s arms control and non-proliferation department, was quoted as saying by RIA.
The Treaty on Open Skies was struck on January 1, 2002 between the US, Russia, and more than 30 other countries. It was designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants a direct role in gathering information about the military forces and activities of concern to them.
Washington and Moscow have used the international pact to keep an eye on each other’s activities, but senior US Democratic lawmakers said last month they believed President Donald Trump might pull the country out of it.
Tensions between the world’s two nuclear powers escalated following Washington’s move last year to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over claims that Moscow had violated the Cold War-era arms control treaty by developing a missile known as the 9M729.