Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, in force since 2002, whose 34 signatories allow unarmed aerial surveillance flights within their borders as a way to improve understanding and ultimately reduce belligerence between the Atlantic block and Russia.
Russia has not respected the treaty, and until it does, the U.S. will withdraw from it,” Trump said Thursday at the White House. Even so, the American president explained to the press that his intention is to “negotiate a new agreement” and that he is working in parallel on a new arms agreement with Russia that includes China.
Late last year, the White House notified several European partners of its intention to withdraw from that treaty, claiming that Russia is preventing U.S. reconnaissance flights in two crucial enclaves: the city of Kaliningrad, an enclave in the southern Baltic states, and in Georgia, an area where Moscow wants to increase its influence. For Trump, these Russian blockades are reason enough to withdraw the U.S. from the treaty, which does allow for reconnaissance flights.
Since this week, the White House has been informing its partners of the departure of this treaty. In March, the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Jim Gilmore, had already said that if there was no reciprocity from Russia, this departure was inevitable from Washington’s point of view.