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Resumption of PACE work (hybrid winter session) and Russia's withdrawal from the Treaty on

While previously, Russia could easily withdraw from any treaty it didn't fancy, times have changed. After the unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe, the Russians faced another surge of negativity towards their country from coming from the international community. Also, by violating the agreement, Russia exposed its aggressive policy towards Europe, while continuing its military incursion in eastern Ukraine. Having learned the lesson of 2015, Russians are now applying a different strategy - they resort to provoking other participating states. That is, being aware of how the West is inclined to responsibly implement and observe international treaties, Russia breaches them without actually withdrawing. In simple terms, the Russians, by own constant violations, provoke the United States and Europe to sever agreements. As for the Open Skies Treaty, first the Kremlin forced the White House to withdraw from the deal, and only after this did Moscow announce that they were over it. Russians no longer wish to be doused with mud as much as they were in 2015. After all, today such a stunt could lead to the introduction of more sanctions targeting Russia.

Again, with regard to the Treaty on Open Skies and the Vienna Document (both are similar in nature and created under the OSCE auspices), Russia violates the basic principles of the said agreements – trust and security in the region. The US withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty was an ultimatum response to the ongoing violations by Russia. The D.C. no longer intended to cooperate with official Moscow in the areas laid down in the treaty. Meanwhile, Russian side exploits certain clauses of the agreement for other purposes. The Russian army quite often used overflights to aim its high-precision weapons at strategically important American and European targets. Besides, bypassing the Treaty, the Russians prohibit the participating actors from conducting observation flights over Kaliningrad and the 10-kilometer corridor along the border of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, thereby concealing the reality of these self-proclaimed republics being dependent on Russia. That is, instead of using the Treaty to build trust between countries, the Russians have turned it into a tool of intimidation and threats. The viability of the Vienna Document is also in limbo. According to the reports by multinational inspections, Russia has been submitting false reporting, hiding the real stats as regards own armed forces. Also, due to Russia's actions, the Vienna Document is likely to be revised as early as this year.


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