Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted to parliament draft legislation that would see the country withdraw from the Open Skies treaty after Washington quit the key post-Cold War defence accord last year.
Moscow announced in mid-January it would withdraw from the treaty, which allows signatories to carry out unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territories.
It cited a “lack of progress” on maintaining the functioning of the treaty after the United States withdrew from it last year.
A government database showed on Tuesday that Putin has submitted the bill exiting the treaty to parliament.
A note accompanying it said the treaty had helped “to significantly strengthen trust in the defence sphere”, adding that the US withdrawal “upset the balance of interests” of signatory states.
“Serious damage has been dealt to the observance of the treaty and its role in strengthening trust and transparency,” the note also said, adding that as a result Russia’s national security was under threat.
The agreement was signed soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 and came into force in 2002.
The treaty allowed its nearly three dozen signatories to carry out short-notice flights over one another’s territory to monitor potential military operations.
Members include countries across Europe, the former Soviet Union and Canada.
Moscow and Washington had long accused each other of breaching the terms of the agreement, and then-US president Donald Trump formally pulled the US out last November.
The pact also allows its members to request copies of images taken during surveillance flights carried out by other members.
The country under surveillance is given 72-hours’ warning ahead of a flight and 24-hours’ notice of the flight path, to which it can suggest modifications.
The Open Skies pact is one of several major treaties Washington abandoned under Trump.
Washington pulled out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, further straining already tense relations between Moscow and Washington that in recent years have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.
In February, Trump’s successor Joe Biden extended the New START nuclear treaty — the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals — by five years.