US withdrawal from Treaty on Open Skies will untie Russia’s hands

This post was published in Politros by Inna Ilinskaya. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WASHINGTON, (BM) – Waiver of the United States by the Open Skies Treaty could be a strategic mistake for Washington. This view was expressed by American columnist Daniel R. Depetris in an article published in The National Interest.

Experts fear that the Russian-American Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will not be extended. However, according to NI, this is not the only important international agreement at serious risk.

According to U.S. media reports, the Trump administration is gearing up for the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, an agreement concluded in 1992 that allows unarmed aircraft to fly over member states. Trump signed a memorandum of intent to unilaterally leave the contract almost half a year ago, Daniel R. Depetris recalls.

“Before Trump takes the final step, he must seriously think about what the world would be like without an Open Skies Treaty,” writes a National Interest analyst. “The risks of withdrawing from the agreement far exceed any potential benefits.”

According to Depetris, the cancellation of the contract is a bad political decision, since Russia, the main opponent of the United States, which has repeatedly worried the US airspace, will also receive a reason to refuse the agreement.

“Withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty will seriously impede Washington’s ability to collect information on Russian strategic weapons systems, aircraft, missile bases and army stocks,” the observer said.

According to Depetris, the satellite tracking system will not help out the United States, since it will not provide Washington with the exact information that reconnaissance aircraft can get.

“The destruction of the Open Skies Treaty would mean the loss of an extremely valuable instrument for the nation,” writes NI author. “That would be tantamount to tying hands.”

Such a radical decision, according to Depetris, will play in favor of Moscow and will not stop Russia from introducing additional restrictions on US observation flights.

If Washington withdraws from the treaty, the Russians will have neither incentive nor reason to comply with any of the conditions in which the States are interested, an analyst with the National Interest publication notes.

According to Depetris, the United States has to make a fateful choice. Unilateral withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty (contrary to the protests of other parties to the agreement) is a very short-sighted move, the expert said.

He is convinced that such blackmail will not force Moscow to sit at the negotiating table. Another – a much more constructive decision – is to conduct an open and constructive dialogue with Russia on all disputed issues related to compliance with the treaty.

The United States is interested in maintaining military transparency and strategic predictability between nuclear superpowers: this is primarily a matter of national security. This is even more relevant at the present stage, when relations between Moscow and Washington are far from ideal, NI expert emphasizes.

“Now is the time to strengthen pragmatic agreements, rather than rashly breaking them,” says Daniel R. Depetris.


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Original source: Politros