On Tuesday, Russia signaled that it is hoping to preserve the Open Skies treaty, an agreement the Trump administration pulled out of last year. The treaty allows unarmed surveillance flights over participating countries and is seen as a trust-building pact.
“If the United States fully returns to observing the treaty, the Russian Federation would be ready to constructively consider that new situation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting with Sweden’s foreign minister.
Russia announced it was withdrawing from Open Skies last month. While Russia declared its intention to leave the treaty, Lavrov said it hasn’t yet formally submitted the notice to other parties.
Lavrov’s comments come after the US and Russia agreed to extend New START, a vital nuclear arms treaty that limits the number of bombers, missiles, and nuclear warheads each power can have deployed.
The Trump administration announced it was withdrawing from Open Skies back in May 2020, and formally left the treaty in November. Both the US and Russia have accused each other of violating the treaty by restricting surveillance flights in certain areas.
After the US exit from Open Skies, Russia and its European signatories tried to preserve the treaty. Moscow wanted a guarantee from the European parties that they would not share intelligence gathered by flights over Russia with the US. But Russia said they hadn’t received assurance from the European countries and decided to announce the withdrawal.