Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attends a video conference meeting as Joe Biden is seen on screen, as part of the virtual US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate, in his residence in Moscow, on April 22, 2020. (Photo by ALEXEY DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 5:31 PM PT – Thursday, May 27, 2021
The Biden administration has confirmed it will not rejoin the Open Skies Treaty with Russia and top NATO allies, which had once allowed surveillance flights over military facilities in both countries. Joe Biden’s officials told reporters on Thursday that they have no plans to rejoin that accord ahead of the Biden-Putin summit.
This comes despite NATO allies Canada, Britain and France, among others continuing mutual arms-control flights with Russia. One official reportedly said that since Biden had taken office, Russia had demonstrated a complete absence of progress in taking steps to return to compliance regarding the treaty.
America’s withdrawal from Open Skies means the U.S. military will no longer be able to inspect Russia’s nuclear objects, allowing for ongoing nuclear build up by Moscow. The announcement comes amid ongoing calls to investigate payments from Moscow to Joe and Hunter Biden.
Biden has partially lifted sanctions on Russia ahead of the June 16 meeting, stirring concerns of his ties to the Kremlin. The Biden administration has continued to say how it is seeking a stable and predictable relationship with Moscow. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been called out on allegations that the Russians interfered in the 2020 presidential election and that Kremlin was behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign that targeted at least nine U.S. agencies.