Russia angered by U.S. restrictions on military flights, journalists

Sept. 29 (UPI) — Russia has accused the United States of violating an international military treaty and threatened reprisals for moves against its state-owned media companies, the latest in a series of diplomatic dust-ups between the two countries.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Thursday the United States was in violation of the Open Skies Treaty — a pact signed in 2002 by more than 30 countries, including both the United States and Russia.

The signatories of the agreement vowed to allow other countries to conduct military observation flights in their airspace. Negotiators hoped greater transparency with nations’ internal military movements would foster more open, less suspicious relationships.

Moscow said the United States the treaty earlier this week when it announced Russian military planes would no longer be allowed to operate in U.S. airspace. In response, the Kremlin similarly declared that U.S. planes wouldn’t be allowed to fly over the heavily fortified military installations at Kaliningrad.

“Nobody has canceled the principle of reciprocity in international relations,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing Thursday, announcing the decision.

Zakharova also threatened reprisals against Washington if it continued to intervene against Russian state-owned news outlets operating in the United States.

The Kremlin funds two news outlets, cable giant RT and web outlet Sputnik. Zakharova said RT America was approached by the U.S. Justice Department, which said outlet employees would have to register under the Foreign Agents Restriction Act.

The law is normally applied to agents of a foreign government.

Zakharova said such restrictions are a violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees journalists, regardless of their country of origin, can operate in the United States without government interference or restrictions. She did not say what the reprisals might be, though both countries have taken turns expelling each other’s diplomats over the last year for a variety of reasons.

The Justice Department has not commented on the new requirements for Russian journalists.


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