On May 23, Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani issued a press statement in response to potential U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies due to alleged breach of the agreement by Russia, noting that Georgian Government is “in close communication” with the U.S., as well as other signatories of the Treaty, to discuss whether Georgia should remain party to the agreement.
Siding with his American counterpart Michael Pompeo, Minister Zalkaliani noted that Georgia banned Russia from carrying out reconnaissance flights on its territory in 2012.
He highlighted that, since the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, Russia imposed “some restrictions” on observation flights within a 10-kilometer corridor in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, which constituted a “violation” of the Treaty.
Russia maintains that occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are not parties to the agreement for being “independent states,” stressed Georgia’s chief diplomat, blaming Kremlin of “neglecting norms of international law,” and of “shunning its duties.”
On May 21, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo signaled U.S. readiness to pull out from the Treaty, citing Russia’s flagrant and continuous violation of the agreement, including by not allowing “observation flights within a 10-kilometer corridor” along its border with occupied Georgian regions.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg voiced strong support for U.S. position, also blaming Russia for breaching the international accord.