Officially, the US authorities have not announced plans to withdraw from the Treaty.
Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has spoken out against the Donald Trump administration’s alleged plans to withdraw the US from the open skies Treaty.
In a letter to White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Engel stressed that withdrawal from the Treaty would be a gift to Russia and a blow to US national security interests, would pose a threat to Ukraine and other key European allies.
“The US withdrawal will only benefit Russia and harm the interests of our allies and partners in the field of national security,” the lawmaker said, without specifying the source of his information.
So far, the US has not officially announced plans to withdraw from the open skies Treaty and dispelled rumors on this score.
However, Engel said that “an exit could divide the transatlantic Alliance and further undermine America’s credibility as a stable and predictable partner in European security matters.”
The Chairman of the Committee said that Congress was aware of some problems with Russia related to the implementation of the Treaty.
“Russia continues to act as it is not expected. Therefore, I support the efforts of the administration to ensure the full applicability of the Treaty to the Kaliningrad region and the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and support the imposed retaliatory restrictions on Russian flights over the territory of the United States,” he said.
At the same time, according to Engel, it is clear to him that “these concerns about compliance with the Treaty can not be considered as a material breach of the Treaty, as a reason that is served as a basis for a possible withdrawal” from the Treaty.
In his view, since its entry into force in 2002, the Treaty had provided important military transparency to the 34 signatories.
“The open skies Treaty allows the United States and our allies and partners in Europe to monitor Russian military deployments,” Engel wrote. – Observation flights within the framework of the Treaty provided additional information about Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and became a deterrent to further Russian aggression in this country. NATO allies and partners, in particular, Ukraine, have repeatedly stressed the importance of the open skies Treaty for their efforts to monitor Russia’s military actions.”