Moscow, Feb 12 : Russia will be forced to take countermeasures if the United States withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty, Foreign Ministry's Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Director Vladimir Ermakov has said.
Reports on the US' intention to withdraw from the treaty, which enables its 34 participants to fly over other countries' territories to check on compliance with disarmament agreements, first emerged in October.
"The US side has not made any official statement on its plans to leave the Open Skies Treaty. However, we regret its possible intention to do so over Russia's alleged violations. If Washington decides to abandon the deal, we will be forced to provide an adequate response. We believe it is too early to discuss publicly what measures we could implement," Ermakov said in an interview with Sputnik, slamming Washington's claims of Russia's violations of the deal as groundless. He reaffirmed Moscow's call for saving the Open Skies Treaty as "one of the few remaining pillars of the European security architecture."
"We have communicated our stand to the US colleagues. Unfortunately, the US partners keep repeating their traditional and absolutely groundless claims of Russia's alleged non-compliance with the treaty, instead of thoroughly analysing the situation and ways to preserve the agreement. The attempts to put the blame on Russia are counterproductive and are beneath criticism. We also have many questions regarding the US' and other NATO member states' implementation of the Open Skies Treaty. However, we prefer not discussing the withdrawal, but looking for decisions capable of removing the mutual concerns together," Ermakov concluded. (UNI)