Could the US shut down the Open Skies treaty? | Inside Story

published on July 9, 2020

Could the us shut down the open skiespresident Donald Trump wants to pull outof a treaty that helps secure peaceafter the Cold War so what's behind themove and has the military pact becomeoutdated in today's world this is insidestory

Hello and welcome to the program I'mImran Khan it's known as one of thepillars of global security after the endof the Cold War the Open Skies treatyallows the US Russia Canada and Europeancountries to fly over each other's

Territories and monitor militaryactivity but earlier this year PresidentDonald Trump announced Washington wantsto withdraw from the pact the othersignatories are debating what to do nextUS official says Russia is violating the

Agreement by blocking flights overmilitary facilities and using planes tomap out American infrastructure forpossible attack the Kremlin rejects theallegations the world's largest militaryalliance NATO is urging Russia to comply

With the agreement Russia has for manyyears imposed flight restrictionsinconsistent with the treaty includingflight limitations of Kaliningradunrestricted flights in Russia near itsborder with Georgia Russia's ongoing

Selective implementation has underminedthe Open Skies treaty over many yearsincluding at successive NATO summitsallies have called on Russia to returnto full compliance so what is the OpenSkies treaty in 1955 us President

Dwight Eisenhower suggested Washingtonand the Soviet Union allow surveillanceflights over each other's territoriesMoscow rejected it at the time decadeslater in 1989 President George HW Bushexpanded the concept to include NATO

Members and other European countries thepact allows unarmed monitoring flightsto collect data on military activitiesit was signed in 1992 but only went intoeffect at ten years later 34 countrieshave ratified the agreement

Let's bring in our guests in washingtondc mark fitzpatrick a senior USdiplomat an Associate Fellowat the International Institute forStrategic Studies in Brussels ofChristine Brezina policy analyst on us

EU relations NATO and transatlanticsecurity cooperation and in MoscowVasily cash-in from the RussianInternational Affairs Council a warmwelcome to you allI want to begin in Washington DC with

You mark Fitzpatrick there's really twothings going on here one it seems to bethe alleged Russian violations of thistreaty but certainly for the us thebiggest thing seems to be part of DonaldTrump's plan to pull out there's many

International agreements as possible themost famous ones include the Irannuclear deal NAFTA which he renegotiatedso is this just yet another treaty hejust doesn't want to be part of becausehe feels the US needs to go it alone

Yes that's basically itthe Russian violations are clear butthey're not that big of a deal they'vebeen dealt with the United States tookreciprocal action so that's not theprecipitating factor this is just a part

Of an overall agenda to to withdraw theUnited States from agreements that areseen to bind us hands it's it's youmight call it the ghost of John Boltonwho disliked all arms control agreementsand one by one he and his acolytes who

Remain in the administration have beencutting the United States off from themVasily cash-in in Moscow the US isalleging Russian violations they areguests in DC says they have been dealtwith yet they are still there what was

Moscow's view on that on the pullout ofthis treaty what's what do they thinkfrom Russian perspective and accordingto what our Minister of Foreign Affairssays the Russian government sees thatthe real reason of us pulling out is

Just the change of your policy towardstheir arms control agreements in generalcertain conclusionto which the American government camethat they didn't need any arms controlagreements anymore the violations which

Are alleged like limitations of theseinspection flights over Kaliningrad orlimitations for the flights near theconflict zone son such as appositein cannot be considered as somethingmajor still they could be negotiated in

Some way however if the American sidedecided to pull out of the agreementthere is no way to stop them andprobably probably we should be justprepared for dismantlement of thisagreement in future mark Fitzpatrick in

DC the agreement was seen as beingslightly out of date given that we nowhave you know satellite technology thiskind of monitoring of militaryinstallations isn't really thatnecessary is that a valid argument do

You think that the US has its argumentuh certainly satellite imagery itsupersedes actually what can be takenfrom aircraft but aircraft have a threeadvantages number one they're flexiblethey don't go on predetermined flight

Paths that can change – they can gounderneath the clouds when there's heavycloud cover a satellite imagery doesn'twork so well on three and this the mostimportant one really they provide avisible political demonstration of US

Commitment to arms can go totransparency and then the sharing of thedata that is provided for in the OpenSkies agreement is another politicallyimportant manifestation of thecooperation Christine Brezina in

Brusselswhat is Brussels is view what is the theEuropean view on the pullout of thetreaty is it that perhaps the treatydoes need changing or is this come asquite a shock

The treaty really matters for Europe ofcourse it matters to have oversight overwhat happens in Russia and in the UnitedStates for the bilateral relationsbetween these two major powers at thesame time the security concerns that

They that the treaty was set up toaddress really are security concerns inEurope if you look at everything frommost recently the Ukraine conflict andRussian military activities on theterritory of Ukraine you see that the

People who are most affected bypotential Russian troop movements andactions are the Europeans and manyEuropean countries many European NATOmembers are signatories of this treatyand so it really is a sense where you

Have these this bilateral in some waysconflict between the US and Russia playout in an area that is a criticalconcern for Europeanshowever Europeans really do have many ofthe same reservations in terms of

Russia's adherence to the provisions ofthe treaty and the concerns ofparticular Bartlett and grad or or otherareas so you see Europeans beingconcerned about this because it affectsEuropeans very directly so that is the

First point really the the need forEuropeans to have ongoing eyes andvisibility about what is going on inRussia in order to preserve their ownsecurity it is also a part of mutualconfidence building so the ability to

Look into what is happening in Russia orthe other signatories really allows forthere to be ongoing dialogue andcooperation which is important in spiteand maybe even because of the ongoingtensions and then there's a third

Element here which is challenging forthe Europeans so the Russian ForeignMinistry has expressed concern that ifthe treaty does go forward what will bethe stipulations for Europeans in aparticular European NATO ally sharing

Their intelligence and what they havegained from their party to this treatywith the United States should it as ithad plans to do withdrawal and so theseare the main concerns here in Europewhich are you know madam

Both is in security in terms of its ownrelations with Russia and its relationswith the United States Vasily cash and Iwill get your reaction in just a secondboy when I go to mark Fitzpatrick inWashington DC it's interesting isn't it

There was an agreement it was working soour guest in Brussels however nowbecause the US won't be part of itintelligence sharing with the us fromEurope is going to be an issue how doesthe us get around there so the United

States said that they would providecompensatory information to Europeanpartners you know by via the US datafrom satellites so as a technical issueit's it's not such a problem the problemis the political issue almost all of

America's NATO partners want the UnitedStates to remain involved you know itwas important over the Ukraine crisisand the United States withdrawal is aslap in the face to its Europeanpartners it's another demonstration of

Us isolation of us first they don'tcare about the European concernsexpressed so well by your panelists inBrusselsVasili cash in your reaction please Imean here's a deal that the Americans

Have pulled out of but it's likely thatthey're still going to get theintelligence that they need from theirEuropean allies because some sort ofdeal might be struckwhat is Russia make of that sure will

Insist on guarantees that the Europeansdo not share such an intelligence withthe United States and of course ifRussia discovers or they're sufficientreasons to suspect that the intelligenceis still shared Russia could start to

Limit the use of this treaty by theEuropeans for example if there arereasons to suspect that certain flightpath is really being implemented at therequest of the Americans so this is abig issue which would effectively put

The treaty into permanentRussia is basically interested inmaintaining the treaty but not at anycost for example there are allegedRussian violations but they were therewere also clear abuse of some of the

Treaty provisions from the NATO part forexample flights over Kaliningrad whichis a very small territory and the flightcould last for very long time sometimescorrect and creating certain obstaclesfor legitimate Russian activities in the

Area and that was used by some NATOcountries sometimes and then when Russiastarted to limit such flights thatbecame an issue so there were certaingrievances and certain dissatisfactionfrom both sides Russian position was and

It still is that we could negotiatethese differences find some way out andstay in the treaty but since there ispolitical decision by the US governmentto pull out of the treaty I think whatwe are witnessing now is just a

Political effort to shift the blame forthe dismantlement of the treaty on theRussians and of course the Russian sideunderstands that perfectly well theywouldn't initiate the dismantlement ofthe treaty but they are completely ready

For thisChristine Brezina in Brussels is there atreaty then another new treaty whichseemingly is what Donald Trump is verygood at demanding it's not his name onmy treaty then he's not really

Interested is there another treatybetween the US and Russia and the EUthat could replace the big treaty thateveryone is looking to right now forfuture arms control is the negotiationround you start so the existing New

START provisions expire in February ofnext year so after the us presidentialelectionbut good questions in that which is alsoa nuclear arms control treaty or aboutthe participation also of China in that

So I think that big the big look toadditional treaties aren't so much aboutopen skies which does have alternativesas we had said through through satellitetechnology it's politically significantbut there are workarounds but the big

Question that moves forward is thequestion around and you start and whathappens there so far the USadministration has been in a habit ofdismantling treaties of setting FASTAcoals to a lot of the multilateral

Formats that have been used thus far andthe question is whether thisadministration will continue to try toset the future of additional armscontrol treaties and continuations suchas the question about what happens to

New start or will we see continuation ofthis more of a more bilateral orunilateral kind of foreign policy in adivergence away from the multilateralformats that had been really favored andhave been very successful since the end

Of the Cold War just for those peoplewho don't know New START is actually thestrategic arms reduction treaty a verykey plank of foreign policy for all ofthe countries involved mark FitzpatrickI know that you're very concerned that

New START may well be the next targetyes new start is the is actually thelast of the arms control trees that theTrump administration has yet todismantle and it will endunless it's extended it will end in

February but so there's not much timeleft to renew it and the Trumpadministration talks about you knowwanting a grand new treaty with Russiaand China but it's made very littleeffort to actually put any such treaty

In place and the Chinese don't want tohave anything to do with itso I'm afraid New START may be the nextone to fall though the saving grace isthat February is in the term of the nextUS president and the way that polling is

Looking today that next president won'tbe Donald Trump canKant would would bite would presidentwould a President Biden be able in thespace of one month to extend New STARTit will take cooperation with Russia I

Hope that Russia extends thatcooperation I hope that they keep noosethe Open Skies agreement valid so thatthe next us president can return theUnited States to it and return to othertreaties but it's interesting isn't it

Because if he if New START is dismantledlet's be you know clear this is the wayseemingly that the US administrationthis current administration is goingthen we're back to the 80s and thede-facto mutually assured destruction

Argument wears it's a mad ethos to putit bluntly mark Fitzpatrick in DC youknow where's this going like whydismantle all of these treaties so it'snot there are several really bad trendsgoing here it's it's the the absence of

Treaties it's the absence of dialoguewith with with adversaries you know youneed to talk to adversaries rather thanwage war on them and then it's thebreaking down of the Alliance Networkyou know Trump pulling out Open Skies

Agreement is another gift to VladimirPutin because Putin wants nothing morethan to see a breakdown in NATO and bythe United States pulling out and thennot being able to receive the data thatNATO partners collect ended up being out

Of out of sync with them on whether tocontinue this agreement it's anotherbreaking down of the whole structure ofthe Western alliance system I I think itcan be restored but it's going badlywrong during this administration

Christine Brezina in Brussels isn't isNATO about to break up them NATO is notabout to break up over this particularprovision I think that we have seen atrend in which the us proceeds ratherunilaterally in US foreign policy at the

Same time it tends to bring NATO alongNATO might not be in the decision-makingprocess and the consultationsseeing not to happen as openly and asearly with NATO allies as we have cedingother administration's and this is a

Source of frustration it's not however aconflict openly between the UnitedStates and its allies it's simply a inaddition to a slow frustration betweenthe Alliance but this isn't a fatal blowby any means we have seen generally

Trying times at the same time we do havea very stronger US presence in Europemilitarily and support and practice forNATO and that continues and so we'vecontinually seen this push and pullbetween support and criticism and

Engagement and unilateral action andthat continues and it is simply what didwe see in the moment but by no means isthis going to sink the Alliance but ifit doesn't sink the Alliance Christinait will certainly change the aligns the

Way the Alliance thinks and the powerair house to intelligence gather thisabsolutely has intelligence sharingimplications but I think as witheverything we look at this a few monthsbefore the us undergoes in you know I

Think a fundamental presidentialelection and when you look at a currentpolling as colleagues have said herethis it does it could well be no thereis a different president in the WhiteHouse starting in the fall so I think

Any kind of decisions that happen inforeign policy within the next fewmonths are going to be seen with thefair amount of reservation because manythings that in terms of USadministration direction can be changed

Come come the new year and so I thinkthere is a a management productiverelationship there are many risks thetrends that we see from the Trumpadministration to dismantle mymultilateralism and to test alliances

That of course continues but again weare not in a condition where any of thisfeels unrecoverable it's interestingVasily cash-in I was talking to anIranian guest on show when we talkedabout the joint comprehensive plan of

Action that the Iran nuclear treaty hesaid to me look everybody's waiting forNovember that's what we're waiting forthere's going to be noall changes between now and then hisMoscow's plan like Terrence just awaitin

See so we we don't expect any majorchange on any of the France afterNovember especially concerning theIranian deal because I think the thereare clear limits to any alterations inthe US policy now taking into account

All of the events which happened beforethere are certain milestones for examplewe are approaching time when we couldactually restart military-technicalcooperation with Iran which could beinteresting for a number of countries

And I think we should move towards thatin that directionin the coming years mark Fitzpatrick inWashington DC waiting til November is noway to run a country's foreign policy isit no but but really is is the the

Prudent policy for America's foreignpartners when when the United States isis making decisions which do not appearto be wise patience might be the thebest response to that given thelikelihood as now appears from the

Polling that there will be a change inpresidency and the positions that formerVice President Biden has stated wouldrestore America's partnerships and andparticipation in international treatiesso you know diplomacy is sometimes been

Described as the art of buying timeuntil circumstances change for thebetter and that's that that's what we'rein right now we are just running out thetime but I do want to ask all three ofyou a very quick questions try and keep

The answers short if you'd like so I'dlike to get to all three of you we aretalking about Russia and Chinabeing quite key allies is it time forthe EU to really look to Russia andChina and to Nathan for NATO to look to

Russia and China the strategic allieslet's begin with you mark no I mean weneed partnerships with Russia and Chinawe need communication channels butstrategic allies no there's there's nocommonality of values of interests there

Are long-standing issues and there areno way can they be a replacement for theUnited States Kristine Brezina what yourthoughts I would echo what Mark said ifyou look at this particular EuropeanCommission for example it's the under or

Slip on their line it calls itself ageopolitical Commission what we haveseen in the past few months is aninsistence upon the importance of valuesand the importance of the democraticsystem and for Europe and for the Europe

As a political bloc that isfundamentally incompatible with Russiaand China at the moment and where Chinahad more favorable of relations withwith the the EU perhaps prior to the tothe last year we have also seen a

Sharpening of language over and adeclaration of systemic rivalry over thedifference in systems between democracyand authoritarian and anti-democraticfacilitation is there any chance thatthe Russia and indeed China are going to

Soften their positions towards NATOtowards the European Union well I thinkthe basic reality of our relations withNATO and European Union is that we arecurrently witnessing a spectaculardisorganization and complete

Unpredictability within bothorganizations and of course within theUnited States which basically effectseveryone always then on a November Iwant to thank all I guess markfitzpatrick christine Brezina and Vasily

Carson and thank you too for watchingyou can see the program again any timeby visiting our website I'll justcalm and for further discussion go toour Facebook page at facebookcomforward slash AJ inside story and you

Could also join the conversation onTwitter we are at AJ inside story fromme Imran Khan and the entire team herein Doha bye for nowyou

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