The U.S. government announced on the 22nd that six months have passed since the U.S. notified its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and that the United States is no longer a member of the treaty.
In response, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the same day that the United States’ withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is not conducive to European security, nor is it conducive to the security of the United States itself and its allies. Russia will closely monitor and analyze the words and deeds of other member states of the treaty, and make relevant decisions based on the security interests of Russia itself and its allies.
Russia: The US approach is not conducive to its own and regional security
The statement stated that the previous US accusations regarding Russia’s violation of the “Open Skies Treaty” were groundless. Just like the actions of the US on other arms control treaties, the US undermining the “Open Skies Treaty” was deliberate. The US choice did not benefit the safety of Europe, the US and its allies. Russia hopes that the existing member states of the “Open Skies Treaty” can strictly perform their duties and ensure that their territories are subject to reconnaissance and that they will not hand over information about their reconnaissance flights to third-party countries that are not member states. Russia is observing whether the words and deeds of other member states of the treaty are consistent, and will make appropriate decisions based on the security interests of Russia and its allies.
On the same day, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov expressed regret for the United States’ formal withdrawal from the “Open Skies Treaty”, and believed that the withdrawal of the United States made this treaty even more infeasible.
Over the past few months, Russia has repeatedly called for an equal dialogue on the “Open Skies Treaty”, but the US seems to have “retired,” and has never responded positively.
On the 12th of this month, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov emphasized that Russia requires other signatories to promise that after the United States withdraws from the treaty, Russia will still be allowed to fly over US bases in Europe.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov: The United States pressures its allies to prohibit Russia from flying over US military installations in its territory. This is a serious violation of the treaty. Of course we cannot and will not accept this situation. We will ask other contracting states to promise Russia that, first of all, it will not prohibit Russia from flying over its territory, regardless of whether there is a US military base there. Second, they are determined not to pass on to the United States the intelligence obtained during Russian aerial reconnaissance.
Putin: It is not realistic to hope that Russia will stay alone in the treaty
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out that the continuous unilateral breach of contract by the United States would threaten the security of Europe, and it is unrealistic to expect Russia to remain alone in the Open Skies Treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: European countries told us, let the United States withdraw, but you don’t. I said, my goodness, it was a great show. You are all members of NATO, but you can continue air reconnaissance and pass on the information obtained to the United States, but we cannot do air reconnaissance because we are still in this treaty.
Now, let us use a short video to understand what kind of treaty the “Open Skies Treaty” withdrawn by the United States is.
The treaty is an important confidence-building measure after the Cold War
The Open Sky Treaty was signed in 1992 and entered into force in 2002. The main content of the treaty stipulates that states parties can conduct unarmed aerial reconnaissance on each other’s territories in order to check their implementation of the international arms control treaty. The treaty is an important confidence-building measure after the end of the Cold War, helping to increase military transparency and reduce the risk of conflict. The United States, Russia and most NATO countries signed this treaty.
On May 22 this year, the US State Department notified the other parties to the treaty of its withdrawal decision, stating that unless Russia can re-implement the treaty, the US will formally withdraw from the treaty in six months. In response to the US accusations, Russia has repeatedly refuted it.
Many European countries have previously expressed regret about the US move
Regarding the withdrawal of the United States from the “Open Sky Treaty”, as early as May 22 this year, many European foreign ministers such as France and Germany issued a joint statement expressing regret for the United States’ intention to withdraw from the “Open Skies Treaty.” The statement pointed out that the “Open Skies Treaty” is an important measure to strengthen military mutual trust between the parties, and aims to increase the transparency and security of the Euro-Atlantic region. The countries issuing the joint declaration will continue to implement the treaty, and the treaty itself will continue to be effective. The statement also stated that countries will continue to engage in dialogue with Russia regarding the problems in the implementation of the treaty.
What is the impact of U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty
For what purpose did the United States withdraw from the “Open Skies Treaty” and what impact it will have, let’s listen to the analysis and interpretation brought by the special commentator Song Xiaojun.
Special commentator Song Xiaojun: The withdrawal of the United States from the “Open Skies Treaty” is actually very consistent with the Trump administration’s withdrawal method. In order to strengthen its eastward expansion of NATO, especially the advancement of Eastern Europe, the United States came to find an excuse, saying that it was a violation of Russia, so it withdrew. In short, its withdrawal from this treaty is to squeeze Russia in a very bullying way.
The impact of its withdrawal from the treaty, I think, has brought very unstable factors to the region. Whether it is Ukraine, or the entire three Baltic countries that have borders with Russia, the tension between the two parties should be said to be very uncertain. In this case, if there is still an “Open Skies Treaty”, at least a channel for military transparency will be added to both sides. In this way, in some cases, it is also a mechanism to alleviate accidental gunfire or friction between the Eastern European part of NATO and Russia.
If (the United States) withdraws, I think it has intensified such a confrontation between NATO and Russia. In fact, Russia is willing to be transparent, but the United States has now withdrawn alone, so it has become a situation where both sides do not know each other’s situation. This may increase friction, or a situation where the two sides are opposed.
In fact, before withdrawing from the “Open Skies Treaty”, the United States has withdrawn from a number of agreements and treaties aimed at maintaining global security and stability. Despite widespread criticism from the international community, the United States still insists on going its own way.
The United States frequently “withdraws from the contract” endangering international security
In July 2015, Iran and the six countries on the Iranian nuclear issue reached a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue. According to the agreement, Iran promised to limit its nuclear program and the international community will lift sanctions against Iran. In May 2018, the United States unilaterally announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and gradually restored sanctions against Iran that were suspended due to the agreement. In response, Iran restarted its nuclear program in stages.
In February 2019, the U.S. government unilaterally initiated the withdrawal from the “Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate and Short-Range Missiles between the Soviet Union and the U.S.” (referred to as the “Intermediate-Range Treaty”) signed by the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States in December 1987. In August of that year According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the treaty has officially become invalid due to the withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range-Range Treaty.
After the “Intermediate-Range Treaty” expired, the “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty” signed by the United States and Russia in 2010 became the only arms control treaty between the two countries. The treaty will expire in February 2021. In October 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to unconditionally extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for one year and discuss all arms control issues during this year. But the Trump administration quickly rejected the proposal. According to Russian media reports, the United States decided in November not to extend the US-Russia “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.”
The United States, which frequently “retires”, has been strongly criticized from within the United States, Russia, and the international community. A series of unilateral moves by the United States are posing an increasingly serious threat to global strategic balance and stability.
U.S. “Break of Contracts and Retreat from Groups” is not conducive to security and stability
From withdrawing from a series of multilateral agreements such as the Paris Agreement, the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to deal with climate change, to kick off the WHO, which is vital to the health and well-being of the global people and public health security. Now, despite the opposition of the international community, the United States has insisted on withdrawing from the “Open Skies Treaty.”
This move by the United States is the same as its recent series of “breaking contracts and withdrawing from the group”. It is also another negative manifestation of its adherence to the Cold War mentality, the pursuit of “America First” and unilateralism, and its betrayal of international commitments.
The withdrawal of the United States from the “Open Skies Treaty” is not conducive to maintaining military mutual trust and transparency among countries in the region, not conducive to maintaining security and stability in relevant regions, and will also have a negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process.