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Russia to announce exit from Open Skies Treaty

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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 Kommersant newspaper cited unnamed official sources as saying on Friday.

Russia will exit the treaty six months after notifying other members of its departure, unless it changes its mind in the interim, Kommersant said.

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

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.

Kommersant said 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.

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

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.

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