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(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, passed a bill on Wednesday to withdraw from the arms-control Treaty on Open Skies. The decision was made in response to the U.S. pullout from the pact in November 2020, head of the chamber’s International Affairs Committee Grigory Karasin said in a statement.

He criticized the U.S. move for significantly undermining the balance of interests and hurting the treaty’s key role in building confidence and transparency. Russia has presented concrete proposals aimed at preserving the treaty, but the United States has not responded, according to Karasin. “Considering that our partners were not ready for reciprocal steps, and proceeding from the need to ensure national security interests, Russia has decided to withdraw from the treaty,” he said. The Russian State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, greenlighted the bill on the withdrawal last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to soon sign the bill into law. The multilateral Treaty on Open Skies, which came into effect in 2002, allows its states-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ territories to collect data on military forces and activities. After Washington announced its withdrawal last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in January that the country had started domestic legal procedures for the official pullout from the treaty.

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