The United States confirms that it will not return to the “Open Skies Treaty,” and only one US-Russian arms control treaty remains.
According to the Associated Press and other media reports, the U.S. State Department said that the Biden administration had informed Russia on Thursday that although the two sides are preparing for the summit meeting next month, the U.S. will not rejoin the “Open Skies Treaty.”
U.S. officials said the matter was notified to the Russian government by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (Wendy Sherman). Before former President Trump announced that the United States had withdrawn from the treaty, the treaty allowed signatories to conduct an unarmed aerial survey on each other’s military installations as required. And Trump’s decision was criticized by Biden, who was still the presidential candidate at the time, as “short-sighted.”
The United States’ confirmation that it will not return to the “Open Skies Treaty” signed in 1992 means that the only vital arms control treaty between the two nuclear powers is the “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”. The “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty” originally expired earlier this year, and Trump did not take any measures to extend the arms control agreement before leaving office. Until Biden came to power, the U.S. government under his leadership took swift action to contact Russia and successfully opened the agreement’s validity for five years until February 5, 2026.
In addition, the Biden administration has also reconsidered Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Some U.S. officials said that these reviews have now been completed, and Sherman has informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov of the U.S. decision not to join.
It is reported that the U.S. announced its withdrawal in November 2020 because Russia violated the “Open Skies Treaty”, but Russia denied that it had violated the contract. In response, the Russian government announced its plan to withdraw from the treaty in January and submitted a bill to withdraw from the treaty on May 11 officially. A Kremlin spokesperson said that one of Russia’s reasons to draw is that after the withdrawal, the United States can still obtain aerial reconnaissance information about Russian facilities from NATO allies that have signed the “Open Skies Treaty.”
It is worth mentioning that the United States and Russia both believed that the “Open Skies Treaty” could still be saved until this Thursday. Russian officials said that if the United States is willing to do so, Russia is also ready to reconsider returning to the treaty. However, the latest news on Thursday seems to signal that the treaty will be ended entirely.