President Joe Biden’s administration has informed Russia that it will not reenter the 1992 Open Skies Treaty with the country due to Russia’s recent actions the U.S., it was announced Thursday.
The treaty allows both militaries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over one another’s territory to monitor military movement. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the treaty in November 2020, an action Biden called “short-sighted” at the time. The Biden administration now says that the U.S. will no re-enter the treaty due to Russia’s repeated hacking attacks against the U.S. and its aggressive military posture toward Ukraine.
“In announcing the intent to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, President Trump has doubled down on his short-sighted policy of going it alone and abandoning American leadership,” then-candidate Biden said in May 2020 after Trump announced the November withdrawal.
Biden is scheduled to hold his first in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16. (RELATED: ‘Tighten The Screws’: Sasse Urges Biden To Punish Putin After Belarus Hijacks Plane With ‘Moscow’s Blessing’)
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have deteriorated steadily since the revelation of the SolarWinds hacking attack on hundreds of U.S. companies and U.S. government agencies. While the attack began early in 2020, it was not discovered until the final weeks of Trump’s administration. The task of reprimanding Russia for the attack as well as its aggression toward Ukraine has now fallen to Biden.
Both the U.S. and Russia have recalled their ambassadors from their respective embassies in Washington and Moscow for consultations on how to proceed with diplomacy. The Russian decision came after Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” with no soul. (RELATED: Biden’s Intel Chief Releases 2020 Election Report Confirming Russian And Iranian Interference)
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, a Trump nominee, announced his return to Washington in mid-April.
“I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,” Sullivan said in a statement.
“Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit. I will return to Moscow in the coming weeks before any meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.”