The 1992 treaty authorizes the 34 member countries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights on short notice over other countries to collect data on their military forces and activities.
The Trump administration cited Russian restrictions on Open Skies flights as the reason it sought to exit the treaty, accusing Moscow of imposing limits on flights near its Kaliningrad enclave, an area between Poland and Lithuania where the Russian army maintains a strong presence.
The United States has also accused Russia of denying flights within 10 km of the Georgia-Russia border and denying a previously approved flight over a major Russian military exercise.
“Russia has not joined the treaty, so until it does, we will be withdrawing,” Trump told reporters outside the White House in May.
America’s European allies, however, value the treaty, as it gives them the ability to collect aerial reconnaissance information that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to outside of the treaty.
In a lengthy May statement explaining the US decision to exit the deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US understands Europeans still value the treaty, saying it was the ‘one of the reasons the United States remained in the treaty for a while despite Moscow’s refusal to join.
The treaty gave American allies and partners without sophisticated satellite capabilities a way to come together and share – all member countries could access images collected on flights.
Pentagon officials told CNN that the U.S. military intends to share some of its intelligence and reconnaissance data from assets such as satellites with European allies to help make up for any loss of critical information resulting from the shutdown of Open Skies flights.
The Trump administration has also quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty over what the United States and all NATO members have called Russian violations of the agreement due to Moscow’s deployment of missiles. nuclear at intermediate range.
However, while the European allies of the United States supported the decision to leave the INF Treaty, no such support was offered for the Trump administration’s decision to leave Open Skies. Eleven member countries also issued a statement in May expressing “regret” over the Trump administration’s decision, which has also met resistance from US lawmakers on both sides.
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