U.S. President Donald Trump decided that the United States would withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.
The reason is a violation of the treaty by Russia. In particular, it is about prohibitions of observation flights over Moscow, Chechnya and the Kaliningrad region.
So what is this agreement is all about.
What is Open Skies Treaty?
It is a multilateral international treaty that allows free flights of unarmed reconnaissance aircraft in the airspace of signatory countries.
In other words, the countries that signed the agreement are obliged to let in, for example, a reconnaissance aircraft of another country, if it has no weapons.
The agreement was signed on March 24, 1992 in Helsinki by representatives of 23 member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). At this moment, 34 countries are parties to the treaty.
The purpose of the treaty is to help build trust between countries through improving mechanisms for monitoring military activity and compliance with existing arms control treaties.
The essence of the treaty is to permit observation flights upon a request.
Moreover, observation aircraft are not equipped with weapons, and the equipment installed on them is being examined by representatives of the countries participating in the agreement.
How the U.S. explain the withdrawal?
DW news agency quoted one official as saying:
"During the course of this review, it has become abundantly clear that it is no longer in America's interests to remain a party to the Open Skies treaty."
What does Russia say?
This treaty is more alive than dead. At least, this is what Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov believes.
“The treaty is not dead at all, and withdrawal of the United States from it in November this year, which I consider very likely to happen, taking into account all the announcements, and most importantly - because of such a behavioral model of Washington in this sphere - it does not mean that the agreement will die after that,” TASS agency quotes the diplomat.
The withdrawal of the United States from the treaty will not happen immediately, but in six months. This week the country began to notify other countries-participants in the agreement about their decision.