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Russia to withdraw form Open Skies Treaty, EU concerned

Russia to withdraw form Open Skies Treaty, EU concerned,

By Jasper de Vries, January 18, 2021
The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced that Russia will withdraw from the international treaty allowing observations flight over military facilities. In a statement the Foreign Ministry referred to the earlier withdrawal of the U.S., that  “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states”.

In reaction to the US withdrawal, the procedure to step out of the treaty has been initiated by the Russian ministry and presented to parliament. Intended to build trust between Russia and the West, the treaty allowed over thirty-six participating countries to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities.

In November last year the U.S. withdrew itself from the treaty, stating that the frequent violations by Russia made it “untenable for the United States to remain a party”. Russia denied these allegations and the European Union urged to U.S. to reconsider their position.

Although Russia’s the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, Leonid Slutsky, said that Russia could review its decision to withdraw if the U.S. decides to return to the pact last Friday, he also stated that those changes are very small. Despite the EU soothing attempts, both Russia and the U.S. are thus on the brink of leaving the pact for good.

The leave of the two superpowers also illustrates another episode of returning Cold War tensions. Back in 2019 both the U.S. and Russia already withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The INF treaty was signed in 1987, after nearly a decade of bargaining between the superpowers. With only the new START nuclear agreement  left in place, the tensions are rising to new heights again. Since the START agreement expires in three weeks, arms control advocates warn that an expiration of this last treaty would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, creating a dangerous situation for global stability.

January 19, 2021 - Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war


  1. How does the nuclear-weapons ban treaty going into effect this week figure into all of this? Signed by 50 countries, though not the big nuclear powers, though it makes these illegal.

    Comment by njsally | January 19, 2021 | Reply

    • njsally A VERY GOOD QUESTION! That supposedly Chines curse about “living in interesting times” is surely applicable to the coming few years. The big nuclear powers, and all their industry, finance, academic and media hangers-on will now put all their spin skills into discrediting the Treaty, and further, probably to discredit the UN itself.

      So much hangs on nuclear weapons – so much investment, so many workers and communities dependent on that industry. Then there are the hatreds, and the fears, of nations, memories of atrocities, the ingrained inability to trust, and the male thing of “who’s got the biggest”.

      It would take a worldwide marathon effort to counter the determination of the big powers to kill this Treaty. The nuclear powers might stifle it via ridicule, or best of all, by silence – just ignore the Treaty. (After all, wasn’t it made up by a few weak men, and silly hysterical women?)

      The Treaty is in fact, carefully devised so as to complement existing agreements, and allow for gradual change, brining in that truly novel concept of humanitarianism.
      But – it might take a catastrophe to make the Treaty globally acceptable.

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | January 19, 2021 | Reply

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