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Trump removes U.S. from Open Skies Agreement and gives another advantage to Moscow

The international agreement was another diplomatic measure that kept Russia at bay.

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By closely observing the international diplomatic measures of the Trump Administration, it is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook the favors being done for Vladimir Putin.

Recently, the White House reported its intention to abandon the Treaty of Open Skies, an international pact among 35 countries that provides for the surveillance of flights within the territory of the participants.

The treaty was designed to improve mutual understanding and trust by gathering information about military forces and activities on the territory, through the concept of "mutual aerial observation.

After accusing Russia of violating the pact, the United States announced its withdrawal plan, the third international agreement from which the Trump Administration dissociates itself.

“I think we have a very good relationship with Russia, but Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty, and so until they adhere to the treaty, we will pull out,” Donald Trump told reporters. He added: “There’s a very good chance we’ll make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he intends to reconsider his decision if Russia returns "to full compliance with the treaty.” Moscow denies any violation of the agreement.

“The timing of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw is clearly tied to the political calendar,” said Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “By rushing this abrupt withdrawal, it is clear the Trump Administration is attempting to bind a future administration from participation in this longstanding and valuable treaty for our nation.”

Both the United States and its European allies have benefited from the Open Skies Treaty because of its ability to monitor the military movements of historically aggressive countries like Russia, and it has been in effect since 2002.

“Reckless deal wrecking and the collapse of US leadership continues,” Kingston Rief, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association said.

“The treaty benefits the U.S. and European security. Our allies value it and don’t want us to leave. It has been an important tool for responding to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This is a propaganda coup for Moscow.”

Although the U.S. argument is that "the Russians were cheating," as Tim Morrison, a former Trump White House arms control official, said on Twitter, and although Moscow denies the accusations, breaking a pact based on trust that also gave an advantageous position in monitoring Russian movements could provide more room for maneuvers like the one Moscow conducted over Crimea in 2014.

Similarly, the insistence of several administration officials on restarting the development of nuclear weapons, especially after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, raises suspicions of a possible new arms race that will only further undermine international stability.

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