The United States said Tuesday it was reviewing the previous administration's withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty as Russia moved formally to leave the post-Cold War accord meant to build trust.
The United States officially left the pact in November after former president Donald Trump's administration said Russia was violating the agreement that allows the two powers and their allies to monitor one another's airspace.
The administration of President Joe Biden said it was taking another look in consultation with US allies.
"We haven't made a decision on the future of American participation in the Open Skies Treaty. We are actively reviewing matters related to the treaty," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
"Russia's own continuing non-compliance with the treaty is one of several pertinent factors as we take stock of things," he said.
"As this process continues, we encourage Russia to take steps to come back into compliance with the treaty."
Moscow announced in mid-January it would leave the treaty, saying there was no progress in making it work in light of the US withdrawal.
A government database showed on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin has submitted the bill exiting the treaty to parliament.
A note accompanying it said the treaty had helped "to significantly strengthen trust in the defense sphere," adding that the US withdrawal "upset the balance of interests" of signatory states.
"Serious damage has been dealt to the observance of the treaty and its role in strengthening trust and transparency," the note also said, adding that as a result Russia's national security was under threat.
Biden took office vowing a firmer line on Russia but has also been more open to international accords after Trump dumped a slew of agreements.
Days after entering office, Biden extended by five years the New START nuclear treaty -- the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals.
- Avoiding miscalculation -
Open Skies was signed soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 and came into force in 2002.
The treaty allowed its nearly three dozen signatories to carry out short-notice flights over one another's territory to monitor potential military operations.
Members include countries across Europe, the former Soviet Union and Canada.
Moscow and Washington had long accused each other of breaching the terms of the agreement and Trump was reportedly outraged by a Russian flight over his New Jersey golf course.
The pact also allows its members to request copies of images taken during surveillance flights carried out by other members.
The country under surveillance is given 72 hours' warning ahead of a flight and 24 hours' notice of the flight path, to which it can suggest modifications.
The Open Skies pact was one of several major treaties Washington abandoned under Trump.
He also pulled out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, further straining already tense relations between Moscow and Washington that in recent years have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.
© 2021 AFP
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has already been anointed as the replacement for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who Republicans say talks negatively about Donald Trump too much.
The internal battle in the GOP has become the biggest story in politics as the party shows one of their own the door because she blames Trump for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Now it seems at least one Republican finally googled Stefanik's voting record and discovered she isn't nearly as conservative as Cheney.
While Cheney may not support Trump, she supported his agenda, as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) noted in a letter to colleagues. She's only supported the Trump agenda 77 percent of the time, FiveThirtyEight charted. Cheney is well over 90 percent.
According to Roy, people like Stefanik are why Republicans had the election handed to them in the past.
He said that the focus of the GOP should be on winning elections, "but instead, we are falling prey to the high drama of swamp politics — the art of shuffling around the deck chairs as the American people look side-eyed, saying, 'uh, y'all realize there's a large iceberg in front of our country, right?'"
"We should either choose someone who reflects our conservative values, or perhaps leave the position vacant..." he explained.
Stefanik has been endorsed by Trump after she cozied up to him.
The latest AP poll puts President Joe Biden at a 63 percent job approval with 54 percent of Americans saying the country is on the right track to 44 percent saying "wrong track."
See the letter below:
[twitter_embed https://twitter.com/scottwongDC/statuses/1392187999715217409 provider_post_id="1392187999715217409" provider_id=2 is_tw_post=true screen_name="@scottwongDC" embed_mobile_width=550 tweet_text="CHIP ROY comes out swinging v. STEFANIK: \"w/ all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message [GOP] leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking\" by Democratspic.twitter.com/WpOX9by5oo" author_name="Scott Wong" embed_desktop_height=574 author_avatar="https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1205128928232443904/dkaJnm0b_bigger.jpg" embed_desktop_width=550 author_screen_name="scottwongDC" created_ts=1620758459 author_id="136550204" embed_mobile_height=574]
Writing in The Washington Post this Tuesday, Greg Sargent contends that of all the claims the GOP is making regarding their diminishing support for Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the most "ludicrous" is their claims that she share their vision of becoming a party for the "working class."
"The idea that Republicans must purge Cheney to continue the Trump-driven transformation into a 'working-class party' is a monumental scam. And the debate over unemployment benefits confirms the point," Sargent writes. "Republicans are widely echoing the talking point that the disappointing April jobs numbers are the result of supplemental unemployment benefits in President Biden's American Rescue Plan, which every Republican opposed."
According to Sargent, you don't have to like Cheney to see "the sheer repulsiveness of the scam" that she must be removed because her criticism of Donald Trump will threaten the GOP's support from working class voters.
"Cheney's real transgression is to demand that Republicans unambiguously repudiate Trump's 'big lie' that the 2020 election was illegitimate, and to commit to honoring democratic outcomes going forward," he writes.
Read the full op-ed over at The Washington Post.
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