Russia is threatening to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.

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In a meeting of Open Skies Consultative Commission on 22 February 2021, Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of the Russian delegation, announced that the procedure for withdrawing the Russian Federation from the Open Skies Treaty would take place by the end of the summer.



"Internal procedures for Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty are underway, we expect them to be completed by the summer"Gavrilov said in a statement. "If the US does not inform us by then of their desire to rejoin this treaty, Russia will send a note to third parties, Hungary and Canada, notifying them of Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty."

On January 15, 2021, Russia announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which allows for mutual aerial monitoring of the military movements and strategic systems of the signatory countries. Russia's decision came as a result of a similar decision by the Trump administration on November 22, 2020.

Proponents of the treaty hoped for a change of position on the part of the United States.

Supporters of the treaty were hoping for a change of position from the new president, Joe Biden. During his campaign, Biden said that "Both the United States and the Allies would have the opportunity to observe the activities of Russia and other European countries.". However, the Biden administration has not yet made any official announcement.

"The Russian Federation will not wait indefinitely for the United States to determine whether it is ready to return.", warned Gavrilov.

Initially negotiated between NATO members and the Warsaw Pact, the Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 in Helsinki, Finland. However, Russia was ratified only nine years later, with the decision coming into force on 1 January 2002.

The treaty states are Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg , Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and, for the time being, the United States.

All countries are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Kyrgyzstan is also a signatory to the treaty, but it has not yet been ratified. All countries are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). One of the purposes of these flights is to observe military movements and ensure that arms limitation measures are implemented.

Each country must accept a series of observation flights, called "passive quota" and may carry out a series of observation flights, called "active quota". A notification 72 hours before the observation flight must be communicated to the authorities of the observed country and to the other members of the Treaty. After the flight, the collected data is available to all signatories.

The flight must be performed by a "Unarmed, fixed-wing aircraft equipped with approved sensors". These sensors include panoramic and framing optical cameras, video cameras with real-time display, all with limited resolutions defined by the treaty. There are provisions for the use of side-view synthetic diaphragm radars and infrared scanners, but none of the aircraft specially equipped for the flight have them.

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