The pact, from which former President Trump withdrew, allowed surveillance flights to be carried out on military installations in both countries.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, The Associated Press reported that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Russians that the Biden administration had decided not to re-enter the treaty, which had allowed surveillance flights over facilities. military relations of both countries before President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact.
Thursday’s decision means only one major arms control treaty will remain between the nuclear powers: the new START treaty. Trump had done nothing to expand the new START, which would have expired earlier this year, but after taking office, the Biden administration moved quickly to extend it for five years and opened a review of the withdrawal of Trump’s Open Skies Treaty.
Officials said the review had been completed and that Sherman had informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of the U.S. decision not to return to Open Skies on Thursday. Officials were not allowed to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The move came ahead of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. They will try to find common ground in the midst of a sharp deterioration in ties that have sunk relationships to their lowest point in decades.
The Open Skies Treaty aimed to build trust between Russia and the West, as it allowed more than three dozen signatories to the agreement to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to gather information on military forces and activities.
More than 1,500 flights have been carried out under the treaty since it entered into force in 2002, with the aim of promoting transparency and enabling arms control and other agreements.
The Trump administration announced on Withdrawal from the US of last year’s treaty and the lower house of Russia’s parliament voted last week to follow suit. But by Thursday, both sides had said the treaty could still be revoked. Russian officials said they were willing to reconsider their withdrawal if the U.S. did the same.
The upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, was expected to approve the withdrawal bill on June 2, and once Putin signed the measure, it would take six months for the Russian exit to take effect.
Thursday’s notification, however, appears to mark the end of the treaty, which was widely supported by U.S. allies in Europe and Democrats in Congress as a confidence-building measure among former Cold War opponents.