Putting an End to Another Post Cold War Treaty
A document was signed by President Trump, which draws the United States closer to withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, which has been in effect since 1992. This treaty has allowed both Russia and the U.S. to carry reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory. This document, which was signed by President Trump, can go either way but is leaning toward more negotiations within the treaty due to Russian violations over the years. The White House has declined to comment on the final outcome of the decision. Still, an official has stated the discussions are ongoing. As we all know with our beloved president, this official said, “Anything is possible with this president.”
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, other treaties in effect may compromise new deals, “The withdrawal would mark a further step toward dismantling the post-Cold War arms-control framework, already buffeted by the demise of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the uncertain fate awaiting the New START accord on U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear arms, which expires in 2021.”
Allies such as Ukraine are working to stay in the Open Skies Treaty in hopes there are no surprise attacks from other nations. Nations involved in the treaty claim any disruptions concerning Russia should be resolved through negotiations. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry stated, “Open Skies Treaty is one of the basic international treaties in the field of European security and arms control. Ukraine is interested in maintaining and implementing this treaty.”
The Trump administration is more concerned with recent attempts from Russia gaining intelligence from the U.S. Russia has interfered in flights that were monitoring U.S. missions and has stopped Canada and the U.S. from flying in central Russia at the end of September. Issues such as these violate the treaty. A U.S. official stated, “We continue to implement and are in full compliance with our obligations under the treaty, unlike Russia.” The Russian Embassy will not comment but claim they do comply with the treaty and are blaming the United States of “jeopardizing the agreement.”
Though the treaty was created in 1992, the origin goes back to President Eisenhower in 1955 when only a proposal was made to fly over each other’s nations to carry out surveillance missions. There was no agreement at that time. It was during President George H.W. Bush’s administration when the treaty was born after the Cold War. Since then, 34 countries have been included within the deal, which consists of the U.S., Canada, Russia, European nations, and Ukraine.
There have been different sides taken if the U.S. should remain in the treaty. In 2018, Jim Mattis, the former Defense Secretary, sent a letter to Congress claiming, despite the Russian violations, “it was in our nation’s best interest” to remain in the Open Skies Treaty. After Russia attacked Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea, a flight was sent out which carried Ukrainian, Romanian, British, French, Canadian, and German observers who said, “it was intended to reaffirm its commitment to Ukraine’s security.”
When former national security adviser John Bolton was the seat, he continuously challenged Russia’s compliance. Right before he left his office, he warned President Trump to withdraw and sign the document with the intention of the U.S. to be removed. The treaty calls for a six-month formal notice in advance for any of the members in the agreement who wish to opt-out. It was confirmed by the Slate website President Trump has signed the document, and there was no comment from Bolton.
The critics of this move claim the U.S. should remain in the treaty and should find other ways of dealing with Russian violations. They claim stopping Russia from flying over U.S. territory would suffice, but they fail to realize the conflicts it causes.
In an August report, the State Department claimed Russia put limitations back in 2014 on how far inland the U.S. could fly. Again in 2010, the U.S. was denied flights over Georgia, where Russia occupied the territory. The State Department claimed those times were never resolved. President Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Military’s Strategic Command Vice Adm., Charles Richard went before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He stated, “It is important in any treaty or agreement for all parties to comply. We do derive some benefit from it, particularly with our allies.”
Many feel it is the proper move to withdraw from the treaty as one senator stated, Senator Tom Cotton said, “Vladimir Putin has violated the Open Skies Treaty for years.”