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Russia to announce exit from Open Skies Treaty

Russia to announce exit from Open Skies Treaty

CONTEXT:

Russia will announce its exit from the Open Skies treaty in the coming days, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, the unnamed official sources as saying on Friday.

The report about Russia's possible departure from the treaty comes ahead of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

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BACKGROUND:

The United States left the arms control and verification treaty in November, accusing Russia of violating it.

NEWS IN DETAILS:

Exit takes 6 months: Russia will exit the treaty six months after notifying other members of its departure, unless it changes its mind in the interim.

Russia has raised concerns that, despite the U.S. exit, Washington could potentially retain access to overflight intelligence gathered by allies who remain members in the treaty.

Moscow had tried to get guarantees from other countries that they would not share such intelligence with Washington, but had not been given any assurances.

New START, the last remaining major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington, is set to expire next month. Biden has said he's keen to renew it, but it remains unclear for how long.

OPEN SKIES TREATY:

Function: To monitor arm development by conducting surveillance flights (unarmed) over each other’s territories.

Members: It is an agreement that allows its 34 signatories countries

Existence: It was signed in 1992 and came into effect in 2002.

Therefore, the treaty established an aerial surveillance system for its participants.

Both US and Russia are signatories of the treaty. US left the treaty last year.

India is not a member of this treaty.

Source: The Hindu