In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Sam Nunn described the 1992 Open Skies Treaty as “one of the pillars upholding international peace and security today.” However, multiple media reports claim that Donald Trump now wants to trash the treaty.
The treaty allows United States and Russian aircraft to fly supervised surveillance missions of each other’s territory, allowing the U.S. to keep tabs on the movement of Russian troops and activity and that country’s military bases. Meanwhile, Russian planes also receive the same consideration, as The Inquisitr reported.
A total of 32 other nations also signed on to the treaty, including Ukraine — it was the Open Skies Treaty that allowed American spy planes to detect Russian military movements in the country. According to CNN columnist and former New York Times foreign correspondent David Andelman, if Trump pulls out of the treaty, he would “give [Russian President Vladimir] Putin more leeway to make forays into areas like eastern Ukraine, where he’d love to keep his actions concealed from western scrutiny.”
The Trump administration has so far refused to comment on Trump’s reported intention to scrap the Open Skies Treaty. However, on Thursday a close Trump ally, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, raised the issue in a confirmation hearing for U.S. Navy Strategic Air Command leadership nominee Vice Admiral Chas Richard.
Also on Thursday, a Russian TU-154 aircraft was reportedly tracked making an Open Skies flight over U.S. territory.
Shhhh... It's the Russians!— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) October 24, 2019
Swoopin' & snoopin' over US military installations around Utah & taking some high-res photos. ????????????
???????? Russian Air Force
Open Skies Tu154 RF85655#OpenSkiesTreaty pic.twitter.com/GzjUcE98nx
In the confirmation hearing, according to Defense News Deputy Editor Aaron Mehta, reporting via Twitter, Cotton pressed Richard to agree that the Open Skies treaty should be killed. But Richard would not agree.
“We do derive some benefit from it, particularly with our allies,” Richard replied, according to Mehta, who described the STRATCOM nominee as “dancing around” Cotton’s questioning about the treaty “pretty well.”
Pulling out of the 1992 treaty “would fulfill Putin’s goals” by effectively driving a further wedge into the NATO alliance, Andelman wrote in his CNN column.
The first indication that Trump planned to ditch the Open Skies Treaty came on October 7, when House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel sent a letter to Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien. The letter expressed alarm at Trump’s apparent intention to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies treaty, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
Pulling out of the 1992 agreement would “only benefit Russia and would be harmful to our allies and partners’ national security interests,” Engel wrote in the letter.
Nuclear proliferation expert Jon B. Wolfsthal called the president’s alleged plan to end the Open Skies Treaty “another Trump gift to Putin,” as quoted by The Inquisitr.