Open Skies Treaty: Biden administration won’t seek to rejoin treaty with Russia after 2020 exit

The 1992 treaty enables member nations to carry out brief notification, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the other nations to gather information on their military forces and activities.

The United States officially withdrew from the treaty in 2015 under the Trump administration, pointing out Russia’s infractions. However the Biden administration’s choice to not look for reentry is specifically significant as it takes one possible location of instant cooperation off the table as President Joe Biden prepares to satisfy with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

“The United States regrets that the Treaty on Open Skies has been undermined by Russia’s violations. In concluding its review of the treaty, the United States therefore does not intend to seek to rejoin it, given Russia’s failure to take any actions to return to compliance. Further, Russia’s behavior, including its recent actions with respect to Ukraine, is not that of a partner committed to confidence-building,” the State Department spokesperson said.

The choice comes just weeks before Biden will satisfy with Putin in Switzerland on June 16. Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that strategic stability would be one of the issues that Biden discusses with Putin.

“We expect they will spend a fair amount of time on strategic stability, where the arms control agenda goes following the extension of New START,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s briefing.

The Biden administration slapped sweeping sanctions on Russia last month over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2020 election, the massive SolarWinds hack and the ongoing occupation of Crimea.

The sanctions announcement showed that the Biden administration is more willing to directly call out Russia’s meddling in US affairs after Trump administration officials had to dance around former President Donald Trump’s frequent unwillingness to criticize Moscow.

Still, the President decided not to sanction the company in charge of building Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline — a step he defended earlier today as necessary to protect US relationships with European allies.

“I have been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the beginning,” Biden stated Tuesday of the pipeline, which is anticipated to be completed this summertime and is planned to offer Europe with a sustainable gas supply while offering Russia more direct access to the European market.

“But it was almost completed by the time I took office,” Biden included. “And to go ahead and impose sanctions now would I think be counterproductive in terms of our European relations and I hope we can work on how they handle it from this point on.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.