Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The Russian government announced Friday that it will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty -- a 30-year-old pact among 34 nations that permits unarmed surveillance flights -- after the United States dropped out last fall.
The treaty allowed Russia and Western nations to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other's territories, a bid intended to build trust between both sides.
The United States officially departed the treaty in November after complaints from the Trump administration that Russia was repeatedly in violation of the agreement.
The Pentagon had complained that Moscow wasn't permitting flights over the Kaliningrad region, where U.S. officials suspect the Russian military has tested nuclear weapons.
Russia's foreign ministry on Friday cited a "lack of progress" for its decision to leave the accord.
"Given the lack of progress in efforts to remove obstacles preventing the future functioning of the treaty in a new situation, [we are] entitled to announce the start of domestic procedures to pave the way for Russia's withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies," the ministry said in a statement.
"Once the procedures are completed, notifications will be sent to the treaty depositories."
Last year, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged European leaders to allow Russia to fly over U.S. installations in Europe -- saying that might persuade Moscow to stay with the Open Skies Treaty.
Improvements in surveillance technology and satellite networks over the last three decades have lessened the need for most reconnaissance flights, but the 1992 treaty remains important to U.S. allies who must keep track of Russian military movements.