Russia and Open Skies Treaty

Written by The Frontier Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law to withdraw Russia from the Treaty on Open Skies on Monday. Russia was preparing to quit the agreement after the unilateral departure of America from the Open Skies Treaty during November 2020. However, After Biden’s entry into the white house, there was a little hope that the Biden administration may return to the accord and finally on May 27, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman notified her Russian counterpart Sergey Ryabkov about Washington’s decision not to rejoin the treaty. However, while throwing away the agreement, the US side blamed Russia for not complying with the provisions of the treaty. It is pertinent to mention that the idea of Open Skies Treaty was floated by the former CIA Director and US President George H W Bush during 1989.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed by 34 nations mostly European and North Atlantic including USA and Canada in March 1992. The main purpose of the open skies’ regime was to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, and broaden possibilities for preventing and managing crises. The treaty established a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants.

After sorting out the necessary methodology of the Open Skies treaty, several countries undertook the specific aerial missions of other participant’s territories and both rival Russia and the United States accused each other for violating the treaty’s provisions.  However, the treaty remained in place for nearly three decades and initially former President Trump pulled America out of the treaty.  

In fact, Open Skies Treaty was aimed at providing a platform to both rival superpowers to undertake an aerial surveillance cum open Espionage operation through this platform for a specific time. Interestingly, several participants refused to permit the flights under the Open Skies Treaty over their sensitive areas whereas Russian always remained worried that EU member states may share its data with American Intelligence apparatus. However, the Open Skies Treaty has lost its value after the departure of two main rivals Russia and America. The analysts are of the view that presently the US is heading to reignite a new cold war with China and Russia therefore the open skies treaty does not suit its interests anymore.

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