Russian Federation Council approves draft law on denunciation of Open Skies Treaty – Reuters

On May 19, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) approved the whistleblower bill. It was originally planned that the Federation Council would also consider the document during its May 19 session, but it was later postponed to June 2.

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko clarified that the postponed date is unrelated to the upcoming summit between Russian and US heads of state in Geneva on June 16.

On May 27, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov of Washington’s decision not to rejoin the Open Skies Treaty. Russia has no intention of changing its position regarding its withdrawal from this agreement to please the United States, Ryabkov told reporters later, according to TASS.

Washington withdrew from the Open Skies treaty in November 2020, citing Moscow’s alleged violations of its clauses. In January 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia was launching domestic procedures to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Later, President Putin presented a bill on denunciation of the treaty to the Russian State Duma. In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly said that the chances of reviving the treaty are slim.

The open skies treaty allows its member states to conduct surveillance flights over each other’s territory to monitor military activity in accordance with approved observer mission quotas. It also regulates flights, determines the mechanism for controlling adherence to the treaty, contains requirements for aircraft, as well as restrictions on the technical parameters of surveillance equipment.