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Thomas Gallatin / May 29, 2020

Ejecting the Open Skies Treaty

After years of Russia’s blatant treaty violations, Trump is acting to protect America and her allies.

Over the objections of those who must have had their heads firmly stuck in the sand for the past several years, President Donald Trump announced that he is pulling the U.S. out of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty (OST). The reason: Russia has repeatedly and blatantly violated the 34-nation agreement, which was ostensibly designed to provide greater transparency of each member’s military. The OST “allows unarmed aerial observation flights over member states’ territory in the interest of military transparency,” The Daily Signal explains. “Using onboard cameras, OST missions — if conducted as the treaty envisions — can potentially provide early warning of aggression, observe ongoing military exercises, and even help verify arms control and other agreements.” In short, the OST is essentially a military accountability agreement.

However, accountability only works when all parties involved willingly uphold their end of the bargain, which Russia has repeatedly failed to do. As former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell pointedly noted, “For years, Russia has systematically violated the terms of the Open Skies Treaty to the detriment of the United States, our allies, and partners. No country should tolerate such treaty abuse and we’re taking action to right this wrong. America can’t be expected to keep its skies open to Russian monitoring flights, while Russia is unwilling to reciprocate on equal terms. Russia’s treaty violations have undermined the central purpose of the treaty while imperiling its neighbors and jeopardizing U.S. national security.”

Russia’s many violations go back at least to 2010. The Wall Street Journal reports that while “Russia used the flights to catalog critical American facilities and even fly over Mr. Trump’s New Jersey estate … it regularly blocked U.S. flights considered legitimate under the treaty. Moscow restricted surveillance missions over Kaliningrad, where Russian forces are massed miles from the Polish border. It also stopped flights in Georgia and over a Russian military exercise.” Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s “reset” with Russia sure paid dividends.

Which brings us to the final point: Trump’s decision proves yet again the profound leftist delusion of the thoroughly debunked hoax that Trump colluded with Russia. Like his campaign slogan, Trump’s main concern with his foreign-policy decisions is about protecting and putting America first, and that’s a far cry from his predecessor’s practice or his 2016 challenger’s plan.

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