[Global Times-Global Network Report Reporter Zhao Jueqi] The U.S. State Department announced on the 22nd local time that the country officially withdrew from the 18-year-old Open Sky Treaty on the grounds that Russia violated this international arms control and verification agreement. U.S. media analysis said that withdrawal from the treaty was the latest blow to the international arms control system.
Previously, the Trump administration had withdrawn from the INF Treaty, and whether the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia, which expires early next year, could be renewed or not yet. In an interview with the Global Times on the 23rd, some Chinese military experts analyzed that the “detance” of the United States added instability between NATO and Russia and further weakened the foundation of the global arms control field.
Regarding the official withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, O’Brien, the assistant national security affairs of the United States, said on the 22nd that this move “prioritizes the United States by withdrawing out of outdated treaties and agreements that benefit our enemies and undermine our national security.”
In May this year, the United States announced that it would withdraw from the Open Sky Treaty. At that time, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo claimed that Moscow had repeatedly violated the Open Sky Treaty and used it for expansion purposes. In this case, it was not in the interest of the United States to continue to perform the Treaty as a member of the Treaty.
According to the provisions of the agreement, the Contracting State must notify other countries at least six months before the proposed withdrawal.
The Treaty on Open Skies, signed in 1992, was one of Europe’s measures to strengthen mutual trust in the post-Cold War. After its entry into force in 2002, treaty members can conduct short-term and advance notice of unarmed observation and reconnaissance flights on each other’s territory to collect data on the armed forces and their activities.
Based on this framework, the members have carried out more than 1,500 observation and reconnaissance flights since then. Before the withdrawal of the United States, 34 countries, including Russia and NATO, signed the treaty.
On the 22nd, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the decision of the United States. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “Washington has made a move. The security of Europe, the security of the United States and the allies of the United States have not benefited from this. Nowadays, many people in the West are wondering how Russia will react.
The answer is very simple. We have repeatedly stressed that all options are open to us.” The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that Moscow will require the signatories to the treaty to ensure that Russia will be allowed to carry out observation flights over the territory of the signatories and resolutely not to transmit the information obtained from Russian aerial reconnaissance to non-signatory countries.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded to this issue on the 23rd, saying that China deeply regrets that the United States persisted in withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty despite the opposition of the international community.
This move by the United States undermines military mutual trust and transparency among relevant countries, is not conducive to maintaining security and stability in the region concerned, and will also have a negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process.” It is not a big country’s attitude and practice to withdraw easily.”
The “retreat” of the United States has also aroused the opposition of its European allies. German Foreign Minister Mass said on the 22nd that he regretted the decision of the Trump administration and that the Open Skies Treaty helped to build trust and promote security throughout the northern hemisphere “from Vladivostok to Vancouver”.
As early as May this year, after the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, many foreign ministers of France, Germany and other European countries issued a joint statement saying that the Treaty is an important measure to strengthen military mutual trust among the parties and aim to increase the transparency and security of the Euro-Atlantic region.
The issuing state of the joint declaration will continue to implement the treaty, and the treaty itself will continue to be in force.
An anonymous Chinese military expert told the Global Times on the 23rd that in recent years, the United States has withdrawn from the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Sky Treaty. The future of the upcoming New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is also uncertain, and the arms control foundation of the United States and Russia after the end of the cold war has almost disappeared.
The constraints on the arms race have been greatly reduced, which will actually harm the interests of all parties. The military expert added that the United States’ behavior also made its European allies unhappy. Its withdrawal actually reduced the military transparency between NATO and Russia and intensified the confrontation between the two sides.
As it is currently in the transition period between Trump and Biden’s two administrations, there is also uncertainty about the impact of the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Sky Treaty. Biden has previously said he is in favor of extending the new START agreement and other arms limitation treaties.
However, Lu Xiang, the Research Institute of the American Institute of Social Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, analyzed in an interview with the Global Times on the 23rd that Biden may not seek to rejoin the Open Sky Treaty after taking office. Technically speaking, the current satellite technology can complete most of the reconnaissance tasks, and it is of little significance to return to the Treaty again.
Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the European and International Integral Research Center of the Russian Institute of Higher Economics, also said in an interview with Russian media, “The possibility of the United States returning to the Open Sky Treaty is very small.
In fact, it is impossible, because it needs re-approval by the Senate, which is still controlled by Republicans. , so it is impossible. And on the whole, the reality of recent decades has clearly shown that the United States will not return after withdrawing from the arms control treaty.
The Trump administration’s repeated “retreat” in the field of arms control is expected to leave more challenges for the Biden administration in handling US-Russia relations. Biden previously said publicly that Russia is the biggest threat facing the United States at present.
Lu Xiang analyzed to the Global Times that in the future strategic competition between the United States and Russia, in addition to military issues, more games are expected in the energy field.
One of Biden’s main positions in the energy field is to develop possible renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil energy, which may change the structure of U.S. energy exports, leading to an increase in Russian energy exports and increased European dependence on Russia,” Lu Xiang said, which is also why North Stream-2 connects Russia with Europe.
The reason why the natural gas project was opposed by the United States. However, Lu Xiang also said that at present, in order to seek an advantageous position in the relationship between the United States and Russia, the top priority should be to restore domestic vitality and solve the huge problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.