US pulls out of Open Skies treaty; Russia says it will affect all members

WION Web Team New York, New York, United States of America May 21, 2020, 11.21 PM(IST)

United States President Donald Trump Photograph:( Reuters )

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The Open Skies treaty, proposed by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, was signed in 1992 and took effect in 2002. The idea is to let member nations make surveillance flights over each other's countries to build trust.

The United States has announced its intention to withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.

The administration said Russia has repeatedly violated the pact's terms. Senior officials said the pullout will formally take place in six months, based on the treaty's withdrawal terms.

Russia, to this end, said this would affect the interests of all of its participants, who are also members of NATO.

RIA state news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Thursday, "Russia has not violated the treaty and nothing prevents the continuation of talks on technical issues that the US says are the violations by the Russian side."

Earlier, in his latest move to pull the country out of a major global treaty, US President Donald Trump had said, "I think we have a very good relationship with Russia. But Russia didn't adhere to the treaty. So until they adhere we will pull out."

Trump told reporters there was a "very good chance we'll make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together."

NATO allies and other countries such as Ukraine have pressed Washington to remain in the treaty, and Trump's decision could aggravate tensions within the alliance.

The administration also pulled the United States out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia last year.

The officials said the decision followed a six-month review that found multiple instances of Russian refusal to comply with the treaty.

One administration official said extensive discussions were held with US allies leading up to the decision but ultimately Washington decided "it is no longer in our interest" to participate in it.

At the same time, the official said, US officials had begun talks in recent days with Russian officials about a new round of nuclear arms negotiations to "begin crafting the next generation of nuclear arms control measures."

The Open Skies treaty, proposed by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, was signed in 1992 and took effect in 2002. The idea is to let member nations make surveillance flights over each other's countries to build trust.

Some experts worry that a US exit from the treaty, which will halt Russian overflights of the United States, could prompt Moscow’s withdrawal, which would end overflights of Russia by the remaining members, weakening European security at a time that Russian-backed separatists are holding parts of Ukraine and Georgia.

The 35 state parties to the Open Skies treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

(with inputs from Reuters)