After the Trump administration announced its intent to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty last week, several NATO member nations agreed to work with Russia in an attempt to preserve the treaty. The treaty has 35 states signed onto it, allows unarmed aerial surveillance between its signatories, and is used to confirm compliance of arms control agreements.
The US is set to officially exit the treaty in six months, citing Russian violations as the reason for withdrawal. Specifically, Russia limiting flights over Kaliningrad and its border near Georgia.
In a statement, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “We are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation.” Stoltenberg accused Russia of “selective implementation” of its obligations under the treaty but said NATO is engaging in talks with Russia.
President Trump said the US might reconsider its withdrawal from the treaty, or may come to a different agreement with Russia over the next six months. But withdrawing from arms control agreements is becoming a pattern for the administration. The administration withdrew from the INF Treaty last year and might be looking to scrap the New START treaty next.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and came into force in 2002. The treaty promotes transparency and cooperation between its signatories. Germany and 10 other countries released a statement together, urging the treaty’s importance. The statement said, “The Open Skies Treaty is a crucial element of the confidence-building framework that was created over the past decades in order to improve transparency and security across the Euro-Atlantic area.”