Russia formally exits from Open Skies pact

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a law formalizing Russia’s withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty, after United States withdrew from pact in 2020.

Key Points

  • Open Skies Treaty is an international treaty that allow nations to collect information on one another’s military forces to increase transparency.
  • United States withdrew from pact in November 2020 after accusing Russia of violating it.

Open Skies Treaty

Treaty on Open Skies is a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over entire territory of participating countries. It is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence as it provides the participants, a direct role in gathering information about military forces. This pact entered into force in January 2002. It has 34 participants currently. It also provides mutual accountability for countries to follow treaty promises. It promotes openness and transparency of military forces. More than 1500 flights have taken place under this agreement.

Why surveillance is needed?

Countries were allowed to openly conduct surveys on each other to prevent misunderstandings and limit escalation of tensions if any.

Background

Concept of mutual aerial observation was first proposed at Geneva Conference in 1955 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, Soviets rejected this concept.

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