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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Doomsday Clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight

Robert Rosner, left, and Suzet McKinney reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

In its annual update on Wednesday morning, scientists announced the Doomsday Clock would be kept at 100 seconds to midnight.

Why it matters: The decision to keep the clock hands steady — tied for the closest it has ever been to midnight in the clock's 74-year history — reflects a picture of progress on climate change and politics undercut by growing threats from infectious disease and disruptive technologies.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 27, 2021 - World

At Davos, Putin points to U.S. to warn Big Tech is driving social divisions

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the virtual “Davos Agenda” conference on Wednesday that recent events in the U.S. had underscored the danger of “public discontent” combined with “modern technology.”

The big picture: Putin, a late addition to the speakers' list, is facing protests at home over the arrest of opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Several experts and activists criticized the World Economic Forum for inviting him, with chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov tweeting that Putin’s appearance showed he was “desperate to reassure his cronies he's still acceptable in the West despite his brutal crackdown.”

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."