The State Department confirmed that, as of today, the United States is no longer a party to the “Open Skies” treaty, which aims to enhance confidence by allowing countries to monitor each other’s armies.
The administration of President Donald Trump had announced its intention to exit the treaty months ago, accusing Russia of violating the treaty by imposing restrictions on flights in its airspace.
The “open skies” treaty states that every country that has signed it agrees to make its territories available for reconnaissance flying, but Russia has restricted flights over certain regions, which made Washington believe that Moscow is spreading medium-range nuclear weapons in these areas that threaten Europe.
The treaty entered into force in 2002, and 34 states signed it, according to which states are allowed to undertake unarmed flights to monitor military activities over the territories of member countries.
US officials say Moscow violated the open skies agreement by banning reconnaissance flights around certain regions, including the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the border with Georgia, as well as preventing surveillance flights over Russian military exercises.
Moscow has shown more interest in air surveillance of European countries than in monitoring the United States, which means that a US withdrawal will not immediately render the treaty worthless.
Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded written assurances from the rest of NATO members that any data they collect from now on will not be shared with the United States.
He also said that US bases in Europe would not be excluded from Russian surveillance missions.