NEW YORK, October 27. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump has signed a document stating that the US administration plans to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, the Wall Street Journal said on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, it is not yet known whether the White House has taken a final decision on that matter. It said citing a source that consultations were still underway.
CNN reported on October 7 that Washington would soon announce plans to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies. Chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel said in a letter addressed to White House National Security Advisor Robert he was "deeply concerned by reports that the Trump Administration is considering withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty" and urged against this "reckless action." Leaders of the Democratic factions in the US Congress’ Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday called on Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to drop the withdrawal plans.
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 24 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations. The treaty establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. Now, the treaty has more than 30 signatory states. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.
Over the past several year, Washington has been accusing Moscow of exercising a selective approach to the treaty’s implementation and violating some of its provisions. Russia has been laying counter-claims to the United States. In 2017, Washington imposed restrictions on Russian observation flights over its territory under this treaty. This move was followed by Russia’s tit-for-tat response.