Restrictions on observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty undermine mutual trust in US-Russian relations – experts say
MOSCOW – From January 1 next year, Russia is going to limit the number of its airfields that can be used by US observer aircraft to carry out inspections under the Open Skies Treaty (OON). This was officially confirmed the day before by the director of the North America Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Georgy Borisenko..
Russia, according to Russian state media, citing sources in the country’s diplomatic circles, is thus responding to earlier reports in the American press that the United States intends to restrict Russian observation flights over Alaska and Hawaii in response to the fact that Russia imposed restrictions on observation flights over the Kaliningrad region.
Also, Washington, according to the American media, intends to deprive Russian inspection aircraft of the opportunity to use the US Air Force Base Robins (in Georgia) or Ellsworth (South Dakota).
As former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter told the Wall Street Journal in September, the American side fears that restrictions on flights through the airspace of the Kaliningrad region were imposed by Moscow to conceal the deployment of sophisticated weapons in this area..
“All sorts of sophisticated radar systems – air defense, area control and security clearance systems – have been reported to keep NATO warships and aircraft at bay. If they have such a weapon, we would like to have more transparency about what is there, “the former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense said in an interview with WSJ..
At the same time, in September, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov argued that the restrictions imposed by the United States would not remain unanswered: according to the Russian diplomat, “apparently, things are moving towards the adoption of certain retaliatory measures by the Russian side,” and he “does not have no doubt “that the answer will follow.
Now this response has followed, and many experts say that the Open Skies Treaty, signed in Helsinki in 1992 by representatives of 23 OSCE member states and ratified by Russia in May 2001, is beginning to fall apart..
In particular, Moscow blames not only the United States for this, but also Georgia – according to statements by Russian military experts, Tbilisi does not want to open airspace for inspecting Russian aircraft, which is why the Open Skies Treaty Advisory Commission has been unable to agree on its work for several months. document.
Alexander Golts: The side that wants to hide the movement of troops wins from the collapse of the DON
Independent military expert Alexander Golts, in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, suggests that reducing the capabilities of the parties within the framework of the OST is beneficial, first of all, to those who are going to carry out serious military activity and keep it secret: “The restrictions on actions under the Open Skies Treaty reduce the opportunity to learn about troop movements, the deployment of military equipment. And if someone wants to keep it a secret, then he gets more of these opportunities. As an example, on February 26, 2014, when Vladimir Putin ordered a “surprise check of troops”, and under the cover of this check, unexpectedly for the Western countries, 40 thousand servicemen were deployed on the Russian-Ukrainian border within 24 hours. “.
Alexander Golts believes that then Moscow, which had concentrated its strike fist on the border with Ukraine, “was originally intended to create pressure on Ukrainian strategic reserves so that if Ukrainian units in Crimea resisted Russian soldiers, they would not allow these reserves to be transferred from eastern Ukraine to Crimea.” … After the annexation of Crimea, according to the analyst, these Russian military units were used by Russia in hostilities in eastern Ukraine..
“As far as can be understood, NATO’s military preparations in Europe are not a secret – there is nothing to hide.
NATO, according to Alexander Golts, does not carry out anything in Europe that would benefit from the restriction of inspections on DOP: “As far as one can understand, NATO’s military preparations in Europe are not a secret – there is nothing to hide. In general, NATO’s military activities in Europe are limited. The answer to some unclear actions of Russia can be expressed in a further build-up of the main military efforts, and then, if the NATO countries are ready for this “.
The military analyst has big doubts about such readiness: “There must be a turn in the brain. The society of Western European countries must understand, must agree that it must make sacrifices to ensure security. This has not yet been observed “.
“This is the dismantling of treaties that secured mutual trust between Russia and the Western states.,
In general, according to Alexander Golts, the entire system of strategic treaties, which were concluded between the nuclear powers in a completely different atmosphere, is being dismantled: “This is the dismantling of treaties that secured mutual trust between Russia and the Western states, which formed a complex system, when one treaty insures the other, and insures against things that are incomprehensible to other countries occur in the military sphere. It is clear that this was only possible in a non-confrontational environment. “.
“As soon as the environment becomes confrontational – and in my opinion, the parties have moved on to the situation of a new Cold War – these treaties begin to prevent the military from acting the way they act in relation to a“ potential adversary ”: hide their intentions, keep secrets about their military preparations , etc. This is, in fact, what is happening today. And, unfortunately, this is just the beginning “- makes a disappointing forecast Alexander Golts.
Alexander Konovalov: It is important that the parties assume each other’s capabilities
President of the Institute for Strategic Assessments Alexander Konovalov, commenting for the Russian service of the “Voice of America” on the mutual reproaches of the United States and Russia over the Open Skies Treaty, also gives examples of Russia’s actions, causing concern to Western countries.
It doesn’t matter what you have – what matters is what I think about what you have and how you are going to use it.
According to an expert who participated in the development of strategic arms treaties, it is very important what one side assumes about the capabilities of the other: “We once wrote a definition of strategic stability. It consisted in the fact that, on the one hand, strategic stability is determined by what and in what quantity you have weapons – this is, so to speak, the essential content of the term, but there is also what is called perception, that is, representation or perception … It doesn’t matter what you have – what matters is what I think about what you have and how you are going to use it. When you carry out the Zapad-2017 maneuvers with the number of troops exceeding the declared one, and at the same time you are lying that the maneuvers are small, when you do not want to let the inspectors in, then the represented part of stability is subject to very strong erosion. “.
Alexander Konovalov recalls that the trust in inspection activities between the United States and Russia has been at a high level for many years: “One of the main achievements of the period when we tried to build normal relations and solve such problems as the elimination of a major war and large-scale offensive operations, as well as concentration heavy equipment in certain areas, consisted of depth control. In particular, around the Votkinsk plant, which assembled SS-20 missiles, there were booths around the perimeter, in which American inspectors were constantly sitting. They did not have the right to enter the enterprise, but they had the right to inquire about what type of missiles are being imported, what are being exported, and to make sure that we do not secretly assemble SS-20 analogues or any systems that violate the Treaty on Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles. “.
“Any decrease in accurate knowledge breeds suspicion, and suspicion breeds incorrect estimates..
Now, as the expert notes, the reduction in confidence-building measures puts the relationship between the United States and Russia on an even more dangerous track: “Any decrease in precise knowledge breeds suspicion, and suspicion breeds incorrect estimates. In the current conditions, when the world is already experiencing colossal tension, all these uncertainties complicate the situation very much and make it even more dangerous and unstable ”.
Reporter for the Russian Voice of America Service in Moscow. Collaborates with Voice of America since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and host of programs for the BBC Russian Service and Radio Liberty. Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.
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