The US is pulling out of another international arms control treaty after accusing the Russians of cheating. This one is called the Open Skies Treaty, and it allows participating nations to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over each other's territory, reports the AP. It was first proposed by Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s but rejected by Moscow, then revived under George HW Bush in 1989 and finally put in place in 2002. Nearly three dozen nations are signed on, but the withdrawal of the US could undermine its future. Now that the US is backing out, Russia is expected to bar flights from European countries, too, reports the New York Times. After this move, the only major arms accord left with Russia is the New START nuclear pact, and Trump is considering exiting that one, too, per the Times.
This is the third international arms control treaty to be scrapped by Trump, after the Iran nuclear accord and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty. Defense hawks have long criticized the Open Skies Treaty, reports the Hill. Russia has forbidden flights over certain areas, and the Pentagon fears Moscow is using its own flights over the US to plan cyberattacks. A Russian flight over Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017 didn't help matters much. Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees object to Trump moving ahead with the move amid the pandemic. “This effort appears intended to limit appropriate congressional consultation on, and scrutiny of, the decision,” they wrote in a letter to the White House. The US maintains it can get the information it needs via US or commercial satellites at less cost. (Read more US-Russia relations stories.)