Open Skies Treaty

Russia recently announced that it is withdrawing from the “Open Skies Treaty”. The treaty allows the signatories to carry out unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territories. In 2020, the US announced that it is to leave the Open Skies Treaty.

Open Skies Treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 after the Disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was first proposed by the former US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 to deescalate cold war tensions. The treaty was signed between NATO (Non-Atlantic Treaty Organization) members and the former Warsaw Pact countries. In 2002, more than 35 countries had signed the treaty. This included US and Russia as well. India is not a signatory of the Open Skies Treaty.

Key Features

The Open Skies Treaty aims to build confidence among its signatories. According to the treaty, a member state can spy on any part of the host nation only after receiving its consent. Also, a member state can take aerial images of the host state after providing a notice before 72 hours. The Open Skies Treaty regulations covered territories such as mainland, territorial waters and islands.

Russia and US

The US left the Open Skies Treaty accusing that Russia is non-compliant with the Open Skies Treaty. On the other hand, according to Russia, withdrawal of US from the treaty has created imbalance in its implementation. This is the reason for Russia’s withdrawal.

Also, the Open Skies Treaty was signed during a time where satellite surveillance did not exist. This puts the treaty in async with the satellite surveillance technology which is currently the preferred mode of intelligence gathering.

Other treaties

The US and Russia left the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF) in 2019. According to INF, the countries agreed to destroy lethal missile systems from their own stocks as a means to decelerate the nuclear arms race.

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