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Vladimir Putin signs law taking Russia out of Open Skies arms control treaty

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Monday that formalises Russia’s withdrawal from the Open Skies arms control treaty, which allows for unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.

Russia had hoped that when Putin and US President Joe Biden meet later this month in Geneva for a summit, they would be able to discuss the treaty.

However, after the Trump administration exited the pact last year, the Biden administration informed Moscow in May that it would not re-enter it.

The Kremlin stated on Monday that the United States’ decision to withdraw from the treaty had “significantly upset the balance of interests” among the treaty’s members, forcing Russia to leave.

“This has seriously harmed the treaty’s observance and its significance in building confidence and transparency, (posing) a threat to Russia’s national security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

Moscow had hoped that Biden would reverse the decision of his predecessor. The Biden administration, however, did not change course, accusing Russia of violating the pact, which Moscow denied. Russia announced its own plans to exit the treaty in January, and the government submitted legislation to parliament last month to formalise its exit.

Russian officials expressed regret for the United States’ decision not to rejoin, calling it a “political mistake,” and warned that the move would not foster an atmosphere conducive to arms control discussions at the Geneva summit later this month.

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