US President Donald Trump intends to notify the Russian authorities on Friday that Washington will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty (DON). This was announced on Thursday by The New York Times, citing sources in the US administration.
According to the newspaper, the US withdrawal from the Don may indicate the intention of the American authorities to abandon the extension in 2021 of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START, unofficial name – START-3). At the same time, according to Reuters, formally, the US withdrawal from DON can take place six months after the announcement, which is provided for by the terms of the contract. Officially, the White House does not comment on the information.
The Associated Press, in turn, reported that the Trump administration on Thursday notified international partners of its withdrawal from DON. According to him, the administration of the American leader said that she intends to withdraw from the agreement, since, according to Washington, Russia violates it. In addition, images that the United States receives during flights under the contract can be obtained faster and at the lowest cost from American or commercial satellites.
Earlier, the US intention to withdraw from DON was announced by Adam Smith, chairman of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee (Democrat, Washington). “I know that the [US] administration has stated to one degree or another that it wants to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty,” he said, commenting on a publication in the Guardian newspaper that said both US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Pentagon chief Mark Esper has already agreed to withdraw from the Don during inter-agency consultations in Washington.
The consideration by the American administration, led by Republican Donald Trump, of the idea of leaving DON was announced last October from the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of the Congress, Eliot Engel (Democrat, from New York State). The US government did not deny the accuracy of the data presented first by Engel, and then by a number of other prominent American lawmakers.
About the contract
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Open Skies Treaty, developed with the active participation of Moscow, is a major measure to build confidence and security. Along with the drafting of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the 1999 Vienna Document, the entry into force of DON has almost completed the formation of a regime of building confidence and transparency in the field of conventional arms in the Euro-Atlantic area.
In practical terms, the DON grants the right to participating states to fly over each other’s territories to observe military activities in accordance with the agreed and agreed quotas of observation missions. It regulates the conduct of flights, determines the mechanism for monitoring compliance with the agreement, contains requirements for the aircraft, restrictions on the composition and technical parameters of surveillance equipment.
For several years now, Washington has accused Moscow of selectively implementing the DON and violating a number of provisions of this multilateral agreement. Russia also makes claims to the United States regarding the implementation of DON. In 2017, Washington announced the introduction of certain restrictions on Russian observation flights over American territory within the framework of the Don, Moscow soon answered in a mirror.