Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok
On November 22, 2020, Washington officially became free from any obligations associated with the Open Skies Treaty. Six months earlier, the White House had notified Moscow of its withdrawal from the agreement. Why this was done and what it led to – the military observer of Gazeta.Ru, Mikhail Khodarenok, understood.
The Open Skies Treaty (DON) is a multilateral international treaty that allows unarmed reconnaissance aircraft to fly freely in the airspace of signatory countries.
The document was sig-ned on March 24, 1992 in Helsinki by representatives of 23 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ( OSCE ). The purpose of the treaty was to help build confidence between states by improving mechanisms for monitoring military activities and compliance with existing treaties in the field of arms control.
In accordance with the treaty, the signatory states committed themselves to providing the opportunity to conduct observation flig-hts over their territory on the basis of a request within the established quotas. T-he flights were to be carried out on a notification basis.
At the same time, the ob-servation aircraft were not equipped with weapons. The equipment installed on them (primarily aerial cameras) was examined by representatives of the states p-articipating in the treaty. Representatives of the co-untry over whose territory the flight is taking place w-ere always present on boa-rd.
In May 2020, US President Donald Trump announced the US intention to withdraw from the treaty. Six months later, the release officially took place. Moscow also withdrew from the treaty in response. The law on the denunciation of Don by Russia was adopted by the State Duma in May 2021. In June, the denunciation was approved by the Federation Council and signed by the President of the Russian Federation.
Any international trea-ties are concluded and, m-ost importantly, are respected by parties of approximately equal geopolitical weight, having comparatively equal military capabilities, and controlling regions of the globe of the same size and importance. If there is no such equality of military-economic potentials, the question of the death of any previously signed agreements is just a matter of time. It was in this logic that the USA acted when they closed the sky. They just don’t see Russia as an equal partner.
This explains the collapse of all international arms limitation treaties on the part of the White House, and not some exclusively evil will and especially insidious intentions of the next White House administration.
It’s just that new centers of power have appeared in the modern world, the geo-strategic picture has been largely reformatted over the past decades. For example, with regard to limiting strategic offensive arms, the Americans have long stated that China should be involved in these processes.
So the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty was quite logical and in full measure was in line with the White House’s policy in the field of arms control and the military activities of other states. At the same time, there were questions about the effectiveness of the contract.
First, it is not entirely clear how much additional information can be obtained from aerial reconnaissance systems in case of compliance with the OST, when practically all these problems can be solved with the help of survey and detailed optical-electronic (as well as radio and radio-technical) space reconnaissance. Second, the open skies treaty is indeed a “relic”. It was signed almost 30 years ago in a completely different geopolitical environment and no longer met the current realities.
Of course, the Open Skies Treaty should not be considered completely irrelevant. This was a kind of confidence-building measure between different states. It is possible that in the distant future both the United States and Russia will return to such an agreement. Of course, now on a new technological basis.
After the final exit from the Don, Russia was left unoccupied by two Tu-214ON (“open skies”) aircraft. They are supposed to be reoriented to solve other problems. Now they can be used as a means of reconnaissance, maybe – to control the protection of their own military facilities.
Among other things, ideas were expressed to use the Tu-214ON to record the results of tests of various weapons and assess the ef-fectiveness of the conducted exercises of the troops. In general: any sphere of a-pplication for both Tu-214-ON aircraft will be found in one way or another.