Ukraine condemns Russia's withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty.

Ukraine condemns Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has said.

The ministry noted that Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is not unexpected for Ukraine and other state parties to the treaty.

"In this way, Russia is completing a course that it deliberately began in the mid-2000s. This course aims to destroy all regimes that have contributed to military restraint in Europe, limited the deployment of strike weapons and sudden large-scale military activities in the Euro-Atlantic area. Through the destruction of arms control regimes, Russia created the conditions for covert preparations for sudden armed aggression against Georgia and Ukraine. Russia continues this aggressive expansionist course to this day," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Ukrainian diplomats noted that Russia stopped conscientiously fulfilling its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty and began to grossly violate it in 2008-2010, carrying out aggression against Georgia. As a result of the aggression, part of the occupied Georgian territories was de facto removed from the area of application of the Open Skies Treaty.

"In 2014, Russia occupied the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, removing them from the effect of the treaty too. In general, due to the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation, more than 57,000 square meters were removed from the area of application of the Open Skies Treaty, including more than 44,000 square meters of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. This is more than the territory of Slovakia, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, or Belgium," the statement reads.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that during 2010-2020, Russia also deliberately resorted to other systematic violations in order to conceal its military activity, forcing the United States to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which had already been distorted by Russia and did not fully meet its main goal.

"Instead of building and improving transparency, predictability and trust between all member states, Moscow has used the Open Skies Treaty as a means to legitimize the results of its aggression and occupation of the Ukrainian Crimea. That is why it is Russia that is responsible for the ongoing destruction of the 'open skies' regime and the erosion of the international architecture of arms control, "the statement said.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that Ukraine clearly recognizes the cornerstone role of conventional arms control in maintaining international peace and security. "Our state remains a bona fide and active participant in all arms control regimes, of which the Open Skies Treaty is an integral part. This treaty has so far remained the only multilateral international treaty in the field of arms control, which remains in force and covers states on both sides of the Euro-Atlantic," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on January 15 announced the beginning of the procedure for Russia's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty.

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