The Biden administration has informed Russia that the US will not rejoin the Open Skies Treaty, an arms control agreement that allows unarmed surveillance flights over participating countries.
The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty last year. Russia had been attempting to salvage it, but the Biden administration’s decision appears to be the final nail in the coffin for Open Skies.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of the US decision on Thursday.
As a candidate, President Biden slammed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the treaty. In May 2020, Biden released a statement that said a US withdrawal from Open Skies would “exacerbate growing tensions between the West and Russia, and increase the risks of miscalculation and conflict.”
In one of his first major foreign policy moves, President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two leaders agreed to extend New START, the last nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia. Biden vowed to work on more arms control agreements with Russia, but so far, he has failed to do so.
Biden and Putin are scheduled to meet in Geneva on June 16th amid heightened tensions. US-Russia relations are at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, thanks to hostile US policies. Since coming into office, Biden has slapped sanctions on Russia, expelled Russian diplomats, and supported Ukraine during a tense stand-off with Moscow.