Trump Wants To Pull Out Of 34-Nation Treaty Allowing US And Allies To Monitor Russian Military Deployments

The Week reports:

On Monday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) released a letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien expressing his deep concern about “reports that the Trump administration is withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty” and urging the administration to abandon “such a reckless action.”

The treaty, in force since 2002 with 34 nations as signatories, “aims to increase confidence in and transparency of military activities, particularly in Europe, by allowing unarmed aerial observation flights over the entire territory of its participants for information-gathering purposes,” the Arms Control Association explains.

Specifically, “the Open Skies Treaty allows the United States and our allies and partners in Europe to monitor Russian military deployment,” especially in Ukraine, Engels said, and “American withdrawal would only benefit Russia.”

Newsweek reports:

The letter prompted grave concerns on social media, with foreign policy watchers denouncing the Trump administration for reportedly considering the move, especially given the president’s suspect relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ben Rhodes, who formerly served as deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted, “Sometimes the only way to explain/predict Trump’s foreign policy is to think ‘what would Putin want the US to do?'”

Jon Wolfsthal, who worked as Obama’s senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council, also linked the reported withdrawal to Putin. “Russia hates Open Skies because it requires them to let Ukraine fly over their country,” he explained. “This is another Trump gift to Putin.”