Jan 15, 2021 - World

Russia to pull out of Open Skies Treaty, increasing tensions with U.S.

Photo of Vladimir Putin sitting at his desk holding a phone to his ear
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Photo: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP via Getty

Russia will pull out of a longstanding accord that allows countries to conduct fly-over military operations across territories, following in the United States' footsteps after President Trump left the treaty last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced Friday.

Why it matters: Russia's exit from the Open Skies Treaty could escalate its rivalry with the U.S. as the country transitions to a new administration under President-elect Joe Biden.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Dave Lawler: Trump pulled out of several multilateral deals on arms control and related security issues, arguing they no longer served America’s interests.

  • Biden feels differently, valuing the sort of international assurances that Open Skies represented.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s action serves as another indication that Biden won’t simply be able to wind the clock back.

The big picture: Russian hackers' massive cybersecurity campaign, which breached U.S. government agencies and companies last year, ignited tensions between Russia and Biden, who has said the nation will pay a price for the hack.

  • Russia's withdrawal from Open Skies appears to be an "opening move" between the two rivals, New York Times reports. It may also undermine European allies' surveillance of Russian movement at their borders.
  • The formal exit will occur in roughly six months.

Go deeper: Biden's hardline Russia reset

Go deeper