Russia to consider withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

The Russian Federation Council will vote on a bill today to withdraw from the Treaty of the Open Skies (OST).

Russia OST

Photo: OSCE

The Russian Federation Council will vote on a bill today to withdraw from the Treaty of the Open Skies (OST).

Russia’s lower house – backed by President Vladimir Putin – unanimously approved the departure on May 19 after the US State Department confirmed it would not re-join the accord. The US had left the program – a series of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over participating territories – last year, citing compliance failures by Moscow.

When the bill passes it will leave only one arms control agreement, the New START, intact between the two major powers. Without open aerial surveillance of Russia arms deployment, NATO’s legitimacy and its mandate to secure the region could be cast into doubt. The decision heightens tensions over Russia’s militarization near the Ukrainian border, a topic of concern brought up by Kiev following the US’s departure.

Russia’s stance could signal to rival nuclear powers like China and Iran, that engaging in multilateral arms control agreements – for instance the JCPOA – are unstable and unproductive to national security goals. Finally, Biden and Putin’s upcoming meeting in Geneva will highlight each other’s mutual disappointments in withdrawing from the OST but offer little in way of solutions to the security dilemma created.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.