WASHINGTON, November 22. /TASS/. Washington has officially confirmed on Sunday that it is no longer a party to the Open Skies Treaty.
"Today marks six months since the United States submitted our notice of withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies. We are now no longer a party to this treaty that Russia flagrantly violated for years," the National Security Council under the White House wrote on its Twitter account citing US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien as saying.
According to O’Brien, the Treaty on Open Skies is one of the "outdated treaties and agreements" that are beneficial for the US’ "adversaries at the expense of our national security," which the United States should withdraw from. US President Donald Trump "has never ceased to put America first by withdrawing us from outdated treaties and agreements that have benefited our adversaries at the expense of our national security," O’Brien said.
The US Department of State also released at press statement on Sunday concerning the country’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty.
"Six months having elapsed, the U.S. withdrawal took effect on November 22, 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies.," it reads.
US President Donald Trump declared on May 21 Washington was going to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which provides for inspection flights over member countries’ territories to monitor military activities. He motivated this step by Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a written statement that the decision to withdraw from the treaty will come into effect in six months after May 22. Moscow denies these accusations saying its is committed to the treaty and puts forward counterclaims.
During the presidential campaign in the United States, Trumps’ Democrat rival Joseph Biden slammed this step as short-sighted as it would only add to tensions between the West and Russia and increase the risks of errors and conflicts.
The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in March 1992 in Helsinki by 23 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.