However, the United States is not backing down to one of the most important international treaties

However, the United States is not backing down to one of the most important international treaties

Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman reported the decision to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. The ministry justified the decision on the grounds that Russia continued to violate the treaty and that, based on Moscow’s behavior, it was not a partner in building mutual trust.

The Open Skies Treaty, signed in 1992 and entered into force in 2002, has 34 parties from Europe and North America. The essence of the agreement is that the joining countries will allow others to carry out surveillance flights over their other territories with unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. Under the terms of the agreement, more than 1,500 inspection flights have been carried out in the past decade and a half, one of its main goals being to boost confidence and monitor compliance with shutdown agreements. The partners found the contract beneficial despite improvements in satellite reconnaissance equipment.

The United States, led by then President Donald Trump, withdrew from the treaty last November because its government accused Moscow of violating the treaty, which Moscow denies. Washington announced its intention to leave early in May last year.

Biden, who was still a candidate for the presidency, criticized Trump’s move as reckless.

As a result, Russia also announced its withdrawal from the agreement in January. The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed at the time that the US withdrawal had caused great damage because it disturbed the balance of the interests of the participating countries and undermined the role of building confidence and security for the agreement. Moscow complained that Washington’s allies did not support Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive.

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Russia has asked countries that are still in the Open Skies Treaty to guarantee their entire territory even after the United States has left, so that they do not fly over American bodies and that aerial photos of Russian lands are not delivered to the Pentagon.

After Biden took office in January, he launched a review of the exit of the United States. After a phone conversation with Putin, a Kremlin spokesman said the two presidents had expressed the two countries’ readiness to join the agreement.

Despite the positive development, the lower house of the Russian parliament passed a week ago a law that would formalize the country’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty. The upper house of the Russian parliament is expected to approve the exit on June 2, and if Vladimir Putin signs the measure, the country’s exit will come into effect six months later.

Thursday’s decision means that only one of the nuclear powers, the New START Arms Control Treaty, will remain in effect until February 5, 2026.

US officials said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and others Senior U.S. officials already indicated to their Russian counterparts last week that the United States would make a decision on the Open Skies Treaty. Blinkin met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Iceland last week. Sullivan met with Nikolai Patrusev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, in Geneva on Monday. According to press reports, the Russian side officially agreed to hold a summit between the two presidents.

The Putin and Biden summit will be held in Geneva on June 16 at the initiative of the US President. Its purpose, according to the Kremlin, is to discuss the development of Russian-American relations and issues of military stability. According to information from the meeting in Moscow, international issues such as the Coronavirus pandemic and various regional conflicts will also be on the agenda.

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Cover photo source: Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

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