Trump’s decision to withdraw from the treaty sparked mixed reactions among Democrats and Republicans.
The Donald Trump administration notified foreign partners on Thursday of the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies. Signatory nations permit each other free flights of unarmed observation aircraft in their airspace.
This decision has elicited mixed reactions from both the United States and the United Nations. UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stefan Dujarrick commented on the Trump administration’s actions at a press briefing on Thursday.
“We reiterate our concern over the weakening of the U.S.-Russian arms control regime … this regime … provides security for the entire international community,” Dujarrick said, adding that withdrawal from such agreements threatens “destabilizing actions” and a new “dangerous arms race.
Republican Michael McCall, co-chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, supported the president’s decision, saying the Treaty on Open Skies was supposed to be a tool for peacekeeping, but “President Putin used it as a military tool.
“Russia has clearly violated the treaty for years by denying the U.S. and our allies flights over Kaliningrad and the Georgian-Russian border. More worryingly, it is clear that Russia is using these flights for improper purposes to gather intelligence about critical U.S. military and civilian infrastructure … threatening our national security”.
McCall supported the president’s decision to withdraw from the treaty and promised to work together with his colleagues in Congress and with U.S. allies and partners in Europe “to ensure our collective security from Russian aggression.
Democrat Eliot Angel, who also co-chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced the administration’s actions, calling today’s White House decision “the president’s reckless plan to withdraw the United States from another arms control agreement” that directly harms American and European security.
“Treaty observation flights … help bring Russia to justice and help our Ukrainian friends repel Russian aggression within their borders … The president has once again retreated from our commitments to allies and partners and undermined U.S. security with little or nothing to do for it,” Angel said in a statement.
Democrat lawmakers, Senator Edward Marky and Congressman Jimmy Panetta, presented a bill Thursday to prevent actions that undermine national security without Congressional approval. The bill, if passed, would prevent situations in which the president withdraws from international treaties without Congressional approval.
Marky and Panetta condemned Trump’s actions today, accusing the president of violating the State Defense Act, which requires the U.S. Department of Defense to give at least 120 days’ notice to other parties to the treaty to withdraw from the agreement.
“President Trump’s reckless withdrawal from the Treaty of Open Skies will have a lasting impact on our ability to monitor Russian military activities that could threaten the interests of the United States and our allies … At a time when we desperately need U.S. global leadership to fight a global pandemic, President Trump should not backtrack on treaties that contribute to our national security and that of our allies,” the joint statement of lawmakers said.