U.S. Won't Re-enter Open Skies Arms Control Pact With Russia

The relationship between the U.S. and Russia has been on rocky ground for some time. Now, as the two countries get ready for a leadership summit in a month, the U.S. announces that it will not be a part of a vital arms control treaty.

Open Skies

The Open Skies Treaty allows for surveillance flights in both countries over military compounds. Originally, President Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the treaty.

Now President Biden has announced that the U.S. would not be rejoining the pact. Currently, the U.S. has a single treaty with Russia, the New START treaty.

It had been set to expire a couple of months ago. However, Biden's administration went to work on a five-year extension plan. At that time, they also looked into rejoining the Open Skies Treaty.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman broke the news to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, letting him know that the U.S. did not intend to renew the treaty with the Russian government.

The state department said in a statement, "In concluding its review of the treaty, the United States, therefore, does not intend to seek to rejoin it, given Russia's failure to take any actions to return to compliance."

Summit Pending

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold a summit on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, in order for the two countries to try to work together. The two countries relations have hit an all time low.

The Open Skies Treaty was an attempt to build more trust between Russia and the Western parts of the world. According to BBC, the treaty has around three dozen signatures, with each signing country authorized to do fly overs of each other's military bases. Fly over gave each participating country a chance to gather intelligence on the others forces and maneuvers.

The treaty began in 2002, and since then there have been over 1,500 flights. The treaty encouraged nations to be transparent and allowed for arms control and the monitoring of other treaties.

Former President Trump had initially withdrawn from the treaty, a move which, as a candidate, Biden had criticized calling it "short-sighted." According to NBC News, the move was also criticized by Jon Wolfsthal, the director of the Nuclear Crisis Group.

"It is both unfortunate and dangerous that the United States decided to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, and Russia's decision to do the same only makes a bad situation worse."

Jon Wolfsthal

Waiting Game

We now have to wait and see how this tactical move will play out during the summit. Russia said they would rejoin the treaty as long as the U.S. does. However, we won't rejoin unless they do better. Hopefully, the two countries will be able to come to an understanding on June 16.

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