Russia withdraws from Open Skies Treaty following the United States  

Moscow – Russia has withdrawn from the Open Skies Treaty, having participation of 35 countries including Europe. Two months ago, the United States withdrew from the concerned agreement. Russia criticised that the US withdrawal has put the concerned treaty into jeopardy. The European countries are concerned that now their security will be compromised, as Russia withdraws from the agreement. France has appealed to Russia to reconsider the decision.  

In 1992, members of the ‘Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’ signed the Open Skies Treaty (OST). As per the OST, with participation from the United States and Russia, along with most European countries, any country was allowed to send its planes into the airspace of another country to survey sensitive areas. Thus, last year, Russia surveyed the disputed US military base Area 51.  

Since the last few years, the United States has been accusing Russia of entering the airspaces of other countries, distorting the OST provisions. Against this background, last year, US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the treaty in May. Whereas, the United States officially withdrew from the treaty on 22nd November. Russia severely criticised the US stand. Whereas, Russia targeted the European countries while announcing withdrawal from the treaty.  

Russia had presented certain proposals to the European countries to reduce the effects of US withdrawal. One of the proposals was to stop sharing flight data with the United States. But the US allies dismissed this proposal. The Russian foreign ministry criticised that the United States can receive flight data despite its withdrawal from the treaty. This policy of the United States and its allies is a threat to Russian security.   

Meanwhile, only few days are left before Joe Biden takes over the reins of the United States. The international media are pointing to the timing of the Russian withdrawal from the treaty. At the same time, next month, the period of the New Start agreement between the United States and Russia- to limit the number of nuclear weapons will end too. 

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