Russia Formally Pulls Out of Open Skies Treaty

Photo: EPA

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation formalizing Russia’s withdrawal from the Open Skies weapons control treaty, which authorizes unarmed monitoring aircraft over member countries, Reuters reports.

Russia had anticipated that when Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden met in Geneva later this month, they will be able to discuss the pact.

However, when the Trump administration left the accord last year, the Biden administration told Moscow in May that it would not re-join it.

The decision by the United States to withdraw from the deal, the Kremlin claimed on Monday, has “seriously disrupted the balance of interests” among the treaty’s parties, forcing Russia to leave.

Biden had been expected to overturn his predecessor’s decision, according to Moscow. However, the Biden administration stuck to its guns, accusing Russia of breaking the treaty, which Moscow denied. Russia declared its intention to withdraw from the pact in January, and the government filed legislation to parliament last month to ratify the withdrawal.

Russian officials expressed sadness over the United States’ decision not to rejoin, calling it a “political blunder,” and warned that the action would not create a suitable environment for weapons control talks at the Geneva conference later this month.