Washington: The US government said that it has decided not to re-join the Open Skies Treaty, a multilateral arms control agreement abandoned last year by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
“The US regrets that the Treaty on Open Skies has been undermined by Russia’s violations. In concluding its review of the treaty, the US therefore does not intend to seek to re-join it, given Russia’s failure to take any actions to return to compliance,” Xinhua news agency quoted a State Department spokesperson as saying in a statement on Thursday.
“Further, Russia’s behaviour, including its recent actions with respect to Ukraine, is not that of a partner committed to confidence-building,” the statement added.
The multilateral Treaty on Open Skies, which became effective in 2002, allows its 34 state-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.
After the US withdrawal on November 22, 2020, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced this January that the country had started domestic legal procedures for the official pull-out from the Treaty.
Last week, the Russian State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, unanimously approved a bill on the country’s withdrawal from the treaty.
The US and Russia have blamed each other for non-compliance with the treaty. The treaty is aimed at building confidence and familiarity among state parties through their participation in the overflights.
By 2019, over 1,500 Open Skies flights have been conducted since the deal entered into force, according to media reports.