Poland disappointed with Russian plans to withdraw from Open Skies Treaty

Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed disappointment on Monday with a declaration by Russia that they would withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which it described as a significant element of the "European security architecture."

The foreign ministry also described the treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over signatory countries, as contributing to building confidence and transparency with regard to military activity.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its disappointment with regard to the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs' announcement on the beginning of domestic procedures for the withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies," reads a Monday statement.

The ministry noted that "recently, we have witnessed the Russian Federation’s lack of will to cooperate and take concrete steps to guarantee compliance with the letter and spirit of the Treaty. The position of the Russian Federation has prevented, among others, the resolution of the issue of unlawful limitations imposed on flights over the Kaliningrad region. In the second half of 2020, the Russian Federation has escalated its demands, rejecting the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue on the Treaty on Open Skies."

The ministry added that Poland remains convinced "of the value of effective arms control, underlining that the full compliance by all states with all of their commitments relating to transparency and verification measures is key in this regard. However, for many years the Russian Federation’s activities have led to the erosion of the arms control system in Europe. The implications of the Russian decision will be the subject of coordination among allies and partners."

On Friday, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced that it would withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Russian authorities say the treaty has been weakened by the US withdrawal from it.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 and entered into force ten years later in 2002. It was signed by 27 NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. Under the treaty, the airspace over countries party to the treaty was made available for flights by unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, in order to facilitate the control of compliance with existing or future arms control agreements. The United States withdrew from the treaty in 2020.