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Moscow Regrets US Reported Intention to Quit Open Skies Treaty

Earlier, the US accused Russia of abusing the terms of the treaty, claiming that Moscow had been unfairly limiting US flights through its airspace.

Pentagon has nothing to announce on the Open Skies Treaty, remains committed to agreements that advance US security, its spokesman said on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the New York Times reported, citing senior Trump administration officials, that Washington plans to inform Moscow on Friday about its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.

Moscow has not received an official notification from Washington yet about its decision to leave the Open Skies Treaty, but if it happens, it will be regrettable, Vladimir Ermakov, the head of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

"If it does happen, it will be very regrettable, of course. But unfortunately, it goes with the general policy of the current [US] administration [which aims to] derail all agreements on arms control. This treaty is crucial in terms of ensuring predictability and mutual trust in Europe and on a larger scale," the diplomat continued.

In March, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that the US was concerned about the treaty "as it stands now", including limits placed on flights near the Russian borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway republics from Georgia which are recognised by Moscow as independent countries and not by Washington. 

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of the states who are members of the accord.

Trump’s intent to pull out from the Open Skies Treaty will be perceived as additional evidence that he also wants to withdraw the United States from the New START Treaty, the report said.

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