China lashes out at United States withdrawal from open skies treaty - global

Clay Curtis
November 24, 2020

President Donald Trump "has never ceased to put America first by withdrawing us from outdated treaties and agreements that have benefited our adversaries at the expense of our national security", the post added.

The United States has repeatedly accused Russian Federation of violating the document, but has not provided evidence to that effect. Specifically, they've blamed Moscow for preventing surveillance flights from happening over Russian Federation, while misusing access provided by the treaty to gather key tactical data.

"We deeply regret that the USA made a decision to take this step and is now doing it".

At its heart, the treaty seeks to build confidence among its members through shared openness, lowering chances of accidental war. The withdrawal only made official a May announcement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over a planned USA exit from the treaty.

On Sunday, a US Department of State spokesman said that six months had passed since the US in May had notified countries party to the agreement that it was withdrawing.

The White House National Security Council has formally confirmed that the United States is no longer a party to the Open Skies Treaty, announcing the decision on Twitter.

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Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded written assurances from the remaining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members that any data they gather from now on will not be shared with the US. The Open Skies Treaty presented one of the few opportunities for military-to-military contact between the two countries.

This is the fourth arms control and related agreement the Trump administration has either withdrawn from or gravely imperiled.

President-elect Joe Biden, who assumes the Oval Office in January, has vowed that the U.S. would rejoin on his first day in the White House. He warned that it would breed West-Russia tensions and increase conflict risks.

This eventually took the form of a treaty between NATO members and former Warsaw Pact nations that went into effect in 2002 with 35 signatories.

Earlier this year, senior Democrat lawmakers, ordinarily on board with any administration policy which might harm relations with Russian Federation, urged the President not to scrap the treaty, suggesting that doing so would allow Moscow to continue to collect information about United States military activities in Europe while Washington would be left in the dark. Every country has an yearly quota for how many flights it must accept (passive quota), and how many it can conduct (active quota). More than 1,500 flights have taken place under the agreement.

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