MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Dear Mr. Co-Chair,
I am forced to note that our call for objectivity was not heard by everyone. The regrets voiced today in a number of speeches, even accusations, reproaches and appeals against Russia give reason for our delegation to speak out more frankly.
In a whole series of today’s statements, we have heard reminiscences from the statement of the NATO Council of June 18 this year. Two delegations directly referred to this document, but not everything that deserves attention in the context of today’s Conference was mentioned from this statement of the NATO Council. It says, in particular, that the members of the alliance “took numerous steps, including during the 4th OST Review Conference, with the aim of constructively resolving unresolved issues of its observance.”
I draw your attention to the fact that this is disinformation with the aim of deliberately misleading other parties to the Treaty and the international community as a whole. It is ridiculous to consider – I am quoting again – as “steps towards a constructive settlement” calls for Russia to “change behavior.” Yes, a couple of specific proposals were put forward during the Fourth OST Review Conference. However, these proposals were not aimed at finding solutions, but precisely at eliminating those treaty provisions to which the Russian side referred to in support of its actions. If colleagues could prove the opposite, including using quotes from their own speeches at the Fourth Review Conference, we would witness a revolution in their foreign policy thinking.
The NATO Council statement also argues that Russia is allegedly unable to interact constructively and has not taken steps to return to full compliance with the Treaty. And further, the members of the alliance “share the concerns” of Washington, to which he referred in his decision to withdraw from the Don (at the same time, the “refusal of Russia to fully comply with the Treaty” was called a “significant factor” in making such a decision).
These theses, dear Mr. Co-Chair, also have nothing to do with reality, no matter how much you repeat them. Today we have already mentioned the consultations in the “small group” in 2015-2017. Even disagreeing with Western assessments of the implementation of the Treaty by Russia, we did not refuse to discuss relevant issues at that time, insisting only on the observance of the principle of reciprocity.
By the way, the work in the “small group” on the topic of flights over the Kaliningrad region continued until the end of last year and was stopped not at the initiative of Russia (we all know perfectly well who forbade our colleagues to further search for a compromise solution).
Let me also remind you of a number of practical steps taken by the Russian side to meet partners halfway. In particular, we put forward a number of ideas for solving the problem of observation flights over Georgia and 10-km zones along the Russian border in the Caucasus. However, they were rejected by those who were not interested in preserving the DON.
Moreover, last year we gave permission to conduct an observation flight over the Kaliningrad region at a distance exceeding the 500-km limit, and also created all the necessary conditions for a successful flight over the area of the Kavkaz-2020 military exercise. However, both of these important signals were defiantly ignored.
Our reminder to Washington on 24 May this year that its return to the membership of the participating States will open the way for renewed discussions on mutual concerns regarding the implementation of the OST remained without a constructive response.
Two more words about the American thesis that the United States “cannot return to the Treaty that Russia is violating.” Note that until 2017 inclusive, even the odious and deeply biased US State Department reports on arms control did not say anything about Russian “violations.” Neither the American experts who spoke at the relevant hearings in Congress, nor many of Washington’s NATO allies recognized our position as violating the Treaty.
The absurdity of the American approach was also manifested in the fact that they began to “impute” us using the DON to improve the aiming of high-precision weapons at the critical infrastructure of the United States and even to “legitimize” positions on Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, as well as to undermine efforts to ensure transparency in the region of the Russian-Ukrainian border. We have heard discussions on this topic today.
Those who replicate all these speculations, I think, understand their inadequacy no worse than their authors. In this regard, I will only remind you that, despite the difficult situation near our southwestern borders, Russia has for more than seven years provided the opportunity to conduct observation flights in the border area with Ukraine (by the way, in 2014, it was the materials of such flights that clearly proved the groundlessness of the in the so-called “build-up of Russian forces” in this zone). At the same time, Washington and its allies are not at all worried that the airspace over a third of Ukraine is closed for any flights (and not only over areas not controlled by Kiev), and Georgia has been denying the very possibility of conducting open skies missions with the participation of Russia over throughout its territory.
The statement of the NATO Council (and today it was sounded by some of the participants in the Conference) ends with an appeal to Russia to use the time remaining before the entry into force of its withdrawal “to revise the decision and return to full compliance with the Treaty.”
There will be no revision, the train has left, ladies and gentlemen. If you were really interested in Russia remaining in the Don, you would have acted differently.
Washington apparently considered that the capabilities of its satellite constellation are quite sufficient for conducting technical reconnaissance of the territory of Russia, and the DON is no longer needed, it is too expensive. He is not interested in the concerns of other participating States, including their own allies, about the loss of an important confidence-building agreement. This topic, however, came up in the context of last year’s election campaign in the United States. So, on May 22, 2020, the future US President J. Biden, who was then just beginning his path to this post, said:
“As the world faces the economic and health implications of the global pandemic, the United States must lead the global community, working with allies and avoiding destabilizing actions.
Withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty will have the opposite effect … The transparency it provides is especially important for countries that do not have their own satellites to take pictures …
Concerns … must be addressed not by withdrawing from the Treaty, but through … its implementation and the use of a negotiating mechanism …
Our allies have made it clear that they want us to remain in the Treaty and work with Russia to address compliance issues. Without us, the Treaty could have collapsed. Withdrawal will exacerbate growing tensions between the West and Russia and increase the risk of miscalculation and conflict.
Rather than breaking the treaties that create greater security for us and our allies, President Trump should take common sense steps to keep Americans safe. He must stay in the Open Skies Treaty and work with allies to resolve problems … ”.
Now, however, completely different approaches have prevailed in Washington. For our part, we will proceed from this in the future.
We have always said and continue to say that Russia did not need DON any more than you did. The expectation that Russia will “bend” under pressure did not work before (remember, for example, the CFE Treaty), will not work now either. We will build our line on the Treaty in the strictest accordance with the national interests of Russia and with the interests of our allies.
If the DON is further terminated, all the blame for such an outcome will also fall on the United States and its allies.
Dear Mr. Co-Chair, I am not going to continue a fruitless discussion with the distinguished representative of Georgia, whose position is well known to us, just as, I hope, he is well aware of our position. Moreover, he referred to a number of our statements and demonstrated a good command of the material.
I want to say that our attitude towards the Open Skies Treaty has never reproduced the techniques used by a large group of our opponents, not excluding Georgia, over the years. Namely, the desire to apply arms control mechanisms in the interests of solving purely political problems. Our approach was the opposite: where difficulties arose in the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty, we tried to propose solutions that had nothing to do with certain political, and even more territorial, aspects in certain areas of our joint work.
Unfortunately, it was Georgia that sabotaged our constructive proposals. It was Georgia that politicized approaches to these issues to the limit. The forces behind Tbilisi encouraged the Georgian side. And undoubtedly, the negative attitude towards our constructive proposals on how to solve this problem has become one of the factors that predetermined the current deplorable state of affairs, including, as we admit, possible difficulties with the existence of the Treaty itself.
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair, for the opportunity to speak. Please attach this statement to the journal of the day of the Conference.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.