The US “will pull out of the Open Skies Treaty”, President Donald Trump said. Earlier in the day, the New York Times reported, citing a source in the US presidential administration, that Washington plans to inform Moscow on Friday about its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.
Trump also said that he has a good relationship with Russia but Moscow did not adhere to the Open Skies Treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.
“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere we will pull out, but there’s a very good chance we’ll make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” Trump said.
The Pentagon on Thursday accused Russia of violating the Open Skies Treaty amid reports of the US decision to withdraw from it, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Thursday.
“Russia flagrantly and continuously violates its obligations under Open Skies, and implements the Treaty in ways that contribute to military threats against the US and our allies and partners,” Hoffman said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Russia of using Open Skies imagery to target critical infrastructure in the US and Europe with precision-guided conventional munitions. He added that Washington may reconsider its withdrawal from the treaty “should Russia return to full compliance” with it. Pompeo added that the US will not be party to the Open Skies Treaty effective six months from tomorrow.
“Tomorrow, the United States will submit notice of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies to the Treaty Depositaries and to all other states parties to the Treaty. Effective six months from tomorrow, the United States will no longer be a party to the Treaty,” Pompeo said. “We may, however, reconsider our withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.”