U.S. Withdraws from Treaty on Open Skies

Published by Matt Fishman on

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced today that the U.S. will “withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies”.

The Treaty on Open Skies, signed by President Bush in August 1992, allowed “the use of unarmed observation aircraft” to conduct “observation flights” over the signing members’ territories. Parties to the treaty “agreed to make their entire territory accessible to aerial observation” by signing.

Secretary Pompeo reasoned that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty because “Russia has flagrantly and continuously violated the Treaty in various ways for years”. Such continuous violations, according to the U.S. Department of State, include Russian airspace restrictions “without justification”, over places such as Chechnya, Kaliningrad, along the Georgia border, Crimea, and “a military exercise called Center which took place in September of 2019”.

President Trump commented that “until they [Russia] adhere, we will pull out”. But added “there’s a very good chance we’ll make a new agreement”, and that “China will be maybe included in that” too.