US exits Open Skies treaty; accuses Russia of breaching


Washington: Blaming Russia’s non-compliance, the US has moved to leave the 35-nation ‘Open Skies’ Treaty that permits unarmed aerial surveillance flights over dozens of participating countries.

The treaty came into force in 2002 and is designed to boost confidence and assure against attacks.

But senior US officials said the country was withdrawing due to repeated Russian violations of its terms.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty. Until they adhere we will pull out,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

He added later that there was a “very good chance we’ll reach a new agreement” with Russia.

President Dwight Eisenhower first proposed the US and the former Soviet Union allow aerial reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory in July 1955. At first, Moscow rejected the idea, but President George H.W. Bush revived it in May 1989, and the treaty entered into force in January 2002.  

More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements.

Trump was particularly incensed that a Russian aircraft flew directly over his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017, according to The New York Times.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had not violated the treaty and that a US withdrawal would be “very regrettable”, adding that the Trump administration was working to “derail all agreements on arms control”.

“We reject any attempts to justify a way out of this fundamental agreement,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

“Nothing prevents continuing the discussions over the technical issues, which the US is misrepresenting as violations by Russia,” he added.

Image courtesy of IANS

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