U.S. State Department said Thursday that the United States of America told Russia it wouldn’t rejoin the Open Skies Arms Control Treaty, allowing unarmed aerial surveillance flights over member nations.
Mentioning unnamed United States officials, the Associated Press stated that Wendy Sherman, Deputy State Secretary, told the Russians that the Joe Biden government had decided not to re-enter the pact, which had allowed surveillance flights over military facilities in both nations before American President Trump withdrew from the promise.
A State Department spokesperson confirms the U.S. is quitting the Open Skies Treaty for good. pic.twitter.com/iq34mK4t1Z
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) May 27, 2021
The 1992 pact allows member nations to conduct short notice, unarmed surveillance flights over the other nations to gather data on their military forces and activities.
The United States formally withdrew from the pact in 2020 under the Trump government, citing Russia’s violations. But the Joe Biden government’s decision not to seek re-entry is especially notable as it takes one potential area of immediate collaboration off the table as Biden prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin, Russian President, in June.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson said America regrets that Russia’s violations have destabilized the Pact on Open Skies. In concluding its review of the promise, America, therefore, doesn’t mean to seek to rejoin it, given Russia’s failure to make any movements to return to the agreement.
Further, Moscow’s behavior, including its recent moves with respect to Ukraine, isn’t that of a partner committed to confidence-building.
Trump’s Reluctance to Criticize Moscow
The decision comes just weeks before Biden would meet with Russia’s Putin in Switzerland on 16th June. Earlier, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said that strategic stability would be one of the subjects that Joe Biden discusses with Vladimir Putin.
At May 25’s briefing, Jen Psaki said that they think they would spend a considerable time on strategic stability, where the arms control plan goes following the extension of New START.
The Joe Biden government slapped sweeping sanctions on Moscow in April over Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. 2020 election, the massive SolarWinds hack, and the continuing occupation of Crimea. The sanctions announcement presented that the Joe Biden government is more willing to directly call out Russia’s interference in American affairs after Trump government officials had to dance around former American President Trump’s frequent reluctance to criticize Moscow.
The United States President still decided not to sanction the company in charge of building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, a step he defended earlier as necessary to protect American relationships with European allies.
Over 1500 flights have been managed under the Pact since it came into effect in 2002, headed for promoting transparency and allowing for the Arms Control’s monitoring and other promises.