Russia, Belarus Move toward Open Skies Treaty Ratification
Boese, Wade, Arms Control Today
BOTH RUSSIA AND Belarus moved closer to completing ratification of the Open Skies Treaty in May. The two countries are expected to complete ratification this fall so that the treaty will enter into force at the beginning of next year.
As expected, Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, gave its approval of the Open Skies Treaty on May 16, a little less than a month after the Russian Duma, the more powerful, lower house, approved the accord on April 18. (See ACT, May 2001.) Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently signed the legislation, ratifying the accord on May 28.
In Belarus, which had adopted the position that it would act on the treaty once Russia did, the lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved the treaty 86-2 on May 3, and the upper house followed suit on May 17.
Kyrgyzstan is the only other country of the 27 signatories that has not ratified the treaty. However, its ratification is not needed for the treaty to enter into force, which will happen 60 days after both Moscow and Minsk have deposited their instruments of ratification.
Negotiated by NATO and the former members of the Warsaw Pact and then signed in March 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits states-parties to fly unarmed reconnaissance missions over each other's entire territories. The sensors aboard the aircraft, including cameras, will enable the observing party to distinguish between tanks and trucks. …