The United States (US) has left the Open Skies treaty (OST) for 6 months w.e.f. May 23, 2020 due to Russia’s non-compliance with the treaty. In this regard, US submitted a notice of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies to the Treaty Depositories i.e. Canada and Hungary, and to all other states party to the Treaty. However, the US would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia returns to full compliance with the Treaty.
- In 2019 also, US withdrew its participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty for the same reasons.
How does Russia become non-compliant or violator of the treaty?
Russia has violated this treaty by denying and restricting the open Skies observation flights. It has refused access to observation flights within a 10-kilometer corridor along its border with the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, by giving false claims that these occupied territories are independent states.
- In 2014, Moscow imposed an unpermitted 500-kilometer limit on flights over the strategically important enclave of Kaliningrad.
- Russia also denied a U.S.-Canadian flight over its “Tsentr” military exercise in September 2019.
What is the Open Skies treaty?
It was proposed by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, was signed in 1992 and came into force on January 1, 2002. It is a treaty of 34 nations while a 35th, Kyrgyzstan, has signed but not ratified it. It enables them to operate unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants.
- This treaty includes Russia, the US and a majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.
- Its aim is to enhance mutual understanding and a chance to gather information about military forces and activities of participating nations by giving 72 hours prior notice to the host state.
- It should be noted that India is not a part of this treaty.
- Signatories: 35 states – Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- Depositaries: Canada and Hungary
Capital– Washington, D.C.
Currency– United States Dollar
President– Donald John Trump
Currency– Russian Rouble
President– Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin