WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has informed Russia that the United States will not rejoin a treaty that would allow nations to monitor each other, although President Biden harshly criticized his predecessor during the US campaign. ‘last year for withdrawing the agreement, State Department officials said Thursday.
The nearly 30-year agreement, known as the Open Skies Treaty, was established to ensure that Russia and the United States could control military movements by using sophisticated sensors on aircraft that would fly over certain territory in the country. other.
President Donald J. Trump communicated to Russia last May his intention to withdraw from the treaty, citing numerous violations by Russians, who had repeatedly blocked flights over cities where U.S. officials believed the Russians were deploying nuclear weapons capable of reaching Europe. At one point, the Russians angered the United States by making a surveillance flight over Florida, near Mr. Trump’s Sea-to-Lake retreat in Palm Beach.
As a candidate at the time, Mr. Biden criticized Trump’s decision, saying the president had “doubled his political short-sightedness by following him alone and leaving the American leadership.”
Democratic lawmakers also criticized Mr. Trump. In a statement at the time, President Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s decision “would senselessly blind America and our allies while encouraging our enemies” and accused her of sending “a clear signal to the Russians that they could continue their bad behavior and unmarked “.
But as president, Biden ordered a new revision of the treaty and officials said they have concluded that the Russians continue to violate the pact and that there is no chance of saving it.
U.S. officials said they found little value in the treaty: satellites offer a good or better view of Russian military activity. But US allies have long argued that the real value lay in the information they could gather from planes and now fear losing access to views of Russian weapons and troop deployments, especially in places like Ukraine. .
In the end, the United States overturned these objections and told allies and partners that Washington would provide what they needed.
But the decision means it is very likely that neither of the two major treaties with Russia that Trump abandoned — the Open Skies and the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement — will recover.
This makes the next meeting of the Biden summit on June 16 in Geneva with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin even more tense. Biden’s aides have said “strategic stability” will be the high point on the agenda.
May 26, 2021, at 9:17 p.m. ET
In a statement on Thursday evening, the United States blamed Russia for the disappearance of the Open Skies Treaty.
“The United States regrets that the open skies treaty has been undermined by Russia’s violations,” the State Department said in a statement. “In concluding the revision of the treaty, the United States therefore has no intention of rejoining it, as Russia has not taken any steps to return to compliance.”
The statement also noted that Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, which include gathering troops near the border with demonstrations of force, did not support the renewal of a treaty aimed at avoiding military surprises.
“Russia’s behavior, including its recent actions with respect to Ukraine, is not that of a partner committed to building trust,” the statement said.
Mr Biden, who proposed the meeting with Mr Putin, argued that there should be a more stable relationship between Russia and the United States, even when his administration opposes Mr Putin’s actions, including the poisoning of a dissident, accumulation near Ukraine and interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
As part of this search for stability, Mr Biden’s diplomatic team negotiated with Russia an extension of the New Start treaty, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 nuclear missiles deployed each. Following the withdrawal of the Open Skies Treaty, New Start will be the only major nuclear treaty left between the two nations.
Tensions between Russia and the United States over the Open Skies Treaty have been building for years, with previous presidents accusing the Russians of violating their conditions.
The deal was first proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955, but angrily rejected by Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet prime minister. Thirty-five years later, President George HW Bush negotiated the treaty with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the goal of making troop movements and the location of nuclear weapons more evident to reduce the chances. that the two countries accidentally fell into a war.
In recent years, the United States and Russia have relied less and less on the surveillance treaty because both nations have sophisticated satellite networks, which are not part of the agreement. Satellites give both nations the ability to control the movements of troops and weapons without the need for surveillance flights.
However, after Trump’s decision, the Russians had indicated that they might be willing to remain in the treaty even as long as U.S. officials said they continued to violate it. The review carried out by the administration of Mr. Biden seems to have sealed his fate.
David E. Sanger contributed to the reports.