Russia will be forced to retaliate if the United States decides to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, a senior Russian diplomat said on Wednesday.

However, it is premature to discuss what the retaliation would involve as Washington has not yet announced the withdrawal, said Vladimir Yermakov, director of the Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Moscow relies on the sanity of its foreign partners and calls for the preservation of the treaty “as one of the few remaining pillars of the security architecture in Europe,” he said.

While the White House mulls pulling out of the treaty, Congress is considering the Open Skies Treaty Stability Act, which, if passed, will prevent the president from unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the pact.

The Treaty on Open Skies took effect in 2002 and currently has 34 party states, including Russia, the United States and some other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The confidence-building and arms-control agreement has established a system of observation flights over its members to gather information about their military forces and activities. Enditem

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