Open Skies Treaty: US tells Russia it will not rejoin key arms control deal

The US has told Russia it will not rejoin an arms control deal that permits unarmed aerial flights over dozens of participating countries.

The state department said the Open Skies Treaty “has been undermined by Russia’s violations” and its failure to return to compliance. Russia denies the allegations, and the country is also expected to withdraw from the treaty this year.

The accord allows short-notice flights to monitor military activity. More than 30 nations participate in the treaty which came into force in 2002.

“The United States regrets that the Treaty on Open Skies has been undermined by Russia’s violations,” the state department said on Thursday.

“In concluding its review of the treaty, the United States therefore does not intend to seek to rejoin it, given Russia’s failure to take any actions to return to compliance.

Under Donald Trump’s presidency Washington withdrew from the treaty. As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden called the move short-sighted.

America’s Thursday announcement means only one major arms control treaty between the two nuclear powers remains in place – the New Start treaty. It sets limits on deployments of strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

The announcement also comes as President Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are preparing for a summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 June.

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