The United States planned to withdraw from another major arms treaty

The United States planned to withdraw from another major arms treaty

An announcement could be made tomorrow, an administration source tells CNN.

The treaty, signed in 1992, allows member countries to conduct unarmed short-term reconnaissance flights over the entire country of others to collect data on military forces and activities.

It was part of a large network of arms control agreements aimed at ensuring stability and predictability on the European continent and reducing the risk of misunderstandings that could turn into conflicts by ensuring transparency.

European allies, who have lobbied for the United States to remain in the treaty, see it as a central part of their security infrastructure and the U.S. decision to withdraw will likely increase tension in transatlantic relations, analysts say.

The president and many officials of his administration have criticized the idea that the United States should be bound by international agreements. But analysts said discarding another deal could potentially deepen global instability.

The Trump administration has already withdrawn a Mid-Range Nuclear Force Treaty and set the conditions for renewing the last remaining nuclear arms deal with Russia – the NEW Initial Treaty – that experts and analysts say everything but ensure that will not be extended.

The Open Skies Treaty is part of “a series of reinforcement documents that create stability and predictability in and around Europe,” said Jon Wolfsthal, director of the nuclear crisis group at Global Zero. “Trump and his advisors have systematically destroyed those agreements in part because of Russian non-compliance, but when looking at Trump’s approach, it’s about breaking down and not putting anything in his place and, at times, making it more difficult for people to put something else in its place. “”

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“This is the general abandonment of a proven tool for securing American and allied interests,” said Wolfsthal.

The United States accused Russia of not respecting the treaty. In early March, the Amb. Jim Gilmore, United States Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the administration was seeking “reciprocity” from Moscow over the deal.

“We think we have to strictly hold the Russians to account for the Open Skies Treaty,” he said. “The President’s policy is that reciprocity is necessary in all treaties. If we are to adhere strictly to these – to our treaty obligations, we expect the Russians to strictly respect their treaty obligations.”

In the past, the United States has also accused Moscow of imposing restrictions on flights near its Kaliningrad exclave, an area between Poland and Lithuania where the Russian military maintains a solid presence.

According to the State Department, the treaty “was designed to improve mutual understanding and trust, giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in collecting information through aerial imagery on military forces and activities that affect them” .

Last year Trump signed a document signaling his intention to withdraw, according to people familiar with the decision, but discussions were still ongoing at the time.

European nations, including Ukraine, have pushed to preserve the treaty, considering it an integral part of their national security. Some analysts argue that the treaty, designed to increase confidence that countries are not planning an attack, was a driving factor in the Russian decision to invade Ukraine with a smaller military force that would be less evident from the air.

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European nations say that any dispute over Russian compliance should be addressed through negotiations. Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, a long-time skeptic of the arms control agreements, and his allies within the administration contested Russia’s requests for compliance. Before leaving office, he invited Trump to sign the document signaling the United States’ intention to withdraw, two U.S. officials said.

Jennifer Hansler of CNN contributed to this report.


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