- The Open Sky Treaty was signed 28 years ago.
- China condemned the US leaving the Treaty.
- Germany and Sweden asked the US to reconsider.
The US officially notified the parties to the Open Skies Treaty of its withdrawal, after which they will be released from their obligations under this document six months later. The announcement came on May 22. The US government cited Russia’s alleged non-compliance with the terms of the agreement as the reason. At the same time, US President Donald Trump did not rule out that the decision may be changed if Moscow begins to follow the document. Russia has denied US accusations of violating the Treaty.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed 28 years ago and since then the technical capabilities of space exploration tools have gone very far. It was signed in Helsinki and became one of the confidence-building measures in Europe after the Cold War era. The Treaty has been utilized since 2002 and allows participating countries to openly collect information about each other’s military. Thirty four states are parties to the Treaty.
Nevertheless, the new technology exceeds the capabilities of the technical parameters of the equipment that can be installed on surveillance aircraft flying within the framework. It is noteworthy that only two countries that are parties to this Treaty–Russia and the United States– have such satellites. However, the impact will be felt by the European NATO members, even though they do not possess such technology.
The decision to leave the treaty is political. The Kremlin immediately demanded the US release all the information gathered under the Treaty pertaining to Russian territory.
China condemned the US leaving the Treaty. The comments are expected. China’s relationship with the US is tumultuous currently. Coronavirus created additional hostilities. The US Department of Commerce just announced new sanctions against Chinese companies and government organizations. The move comes on the heels of China’s violation of the human rights and abuses committed in a campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against their Muslim community.
The sanctions include the Ministry of Public Security of the PRC and eight Chinese legal entities. The US noted that all of them will add to the sanctions list created in October 2019, which already includes 28 Chinese companies on the same charges. The second sanctions list includes 24 Chinese government and commercial organizations “engaged in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
These organizations are based in China, Hong Kong, and the Cayman Islands. The US believes that these organizations that import goods and technologies from the United States are ultimately linked to the creation of weapons of mass destruction and military technology.
Germany and Sweden urged the US to reconsider leaving the Treaty. Overall, the US is acting in the best interest of the nation. The geopolitical balance continues to shift and a new world paradigm is being carved.