The Moscow government is reacting coolly to the US announcement that it will leave the Open Skies Agreement. A new trust building agreement is not in sight.
Russia sees no chance of a new agreement
If the United States makes its announcement and withdraws from the Open Skies agreement on military observation flights, Russia sees no chance of a new agreement. “There are no prospects for a new agreement to replace the contract,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday on state television. “We don’t need such perspectives either.” The previous contract works flawlessly and guarantees European security, says Ryabkov. Even if Russia should meet all American demands, it does not expect the United States to stick to the treaty.
The agreement on the “Open Skies Treaty” allows the last 34 signatory states, among other things, several observation flights per year in the airspace of the contracting parties. It was concluded in 1992 between NATO countries and former Warsaw Pact members and entered into force in 2002. Since then there have been more than 1,500 observation flights, which are primarily used to build trust. Representatives of the observing and observed states take part in all flights.
The government in Washington announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the treaty. Washington cites Moscow’s violations of the contract as the reason. That is why the US is no longer bound by the treaty.
President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, said the picture– Newspaper: “The Russians systematically violated the contract by refusing to fly over American and allied planes.” At the same time, Russia used overflights “to fly over civilian facilities, the White House, Camp David and a golf course on which the President is staying”. Russia rejects the allegations.
The announcement by the United States has caused international confusion and concern. Until recently, the German government and its European partners had fought to dissuade Trump from terminating the contract. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Thursday that it would campaign for “the US government to rethink its decision”.
The US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, criticized Maas. “Instead of complaining about the US response, Heiko Maas should have increased the pressure on Russia in recent years to honor its commitments,” said Grenell Rheinische Post.
Criticism also from the chairwoman of the House of Representatives
There has also been criticism of the Trump administration’s exit announcement in the United States. The head of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, criticized on Friday that the withdrawal from the treaty “further undermines America’s credibility in the global community and makes Americans less secure”. The move makes America “blind” and encourages US enemies.
The United States has left numerous international agreements under Trump, including the nuclear deal with Iran, the Paris climate deal, and the INF treaty banning land-based mid-range nuclear weapons. The latter had been signed by the United States and the Soviet Union and was the most important nuclear disarmament treaty for Europe.