The United States officially withdrew from another arms control deal with Russia on Sunday, marking the end of a six-month intelligence process that informed Moscow, US officials told Fox News.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, signed between former Cold War enemies in 1992 to set up unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory to collect data on military forces.
However, the United States has accused Russia of violating the agreement for years and preventing flights over Russian territory, including Kaliningrad, where nuclear weapons are suspected of being present and within reach of major European capitals.
“On 22 May 2020, the United States exercised its right under Article XV (2) of the Treaty of the Sky by notifying the depositaries of the Treaty and all participating States of their decision to withdraw from the Treaty with effect from six months after the date of the notification, “said Cale Brown, chief spokesman for the State Department, in a statement.”
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Earlier this summer, the Pentagon issued a statement saying that “it has become very clear that it is no longer in the United States’ best interest to remain a party to this treaty when Russia does not maintain its obligations.”
At the time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the movement was at least in part inspired by Russian violations of the agreement.
“While the United States, together with our allies and partners that are States Parties to the Treaty, have lived up to our obligations and obligations under the Treaty, Russia has openly and continuously violated the Treaty in various ways for years,” Pompeo said in a statement. . “This is not an exclusive story that only applies to the Open Skies Treaty, unfortunately, because Russia has been a serious breach of many of its arms control obligations and obligations.”
The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the treaty comes at the same time as the president made remarks during the virtual G-20 summit.
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Prior to the official withdrawal, some U.S. lawmakers also expressed skepticism about the treaty, encouraging the United States’ departure from it, Russia is the only recipient because the United States relies on advanced spy satellites in space to gather intelligence not covered by the treaty. . The flight is also seen more as a propaganda boost for Moscow – which has previously flown over President Trump’s Bedminster Club and the nation’s capital in recent years.
Some experts believe the US withdrawal from the treaty is a sign that Trump is preparing to abandon the one major arms deal left with Russia: New START.
This treaty, which is expected to expire in February weeks after the next presidential inauguration, restricts US and Russian forces from deploying a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads at a time. Trump has insisted that China join what is now a US-Russia border on nuclear arsenals.
Democrats have expressed concern that the withdrawal from the treaty could damage relations with European allies who trust them to keep an eye on Russian activities.
President-elect Joe Biden has called Trump’s decision to withdraw from the treaty short-sighted.
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Open Skies was first proposed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, but the Soviet Union refused. It was raised again by President George HW Bush, and negotiations began in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It entered into force in 2002 and now has 35 signatories.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Rich Edson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.