Putin signs law taking Russia out of Open Skies arms control treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday formalizing Russia’s withdrawal from the Open Skies arms control treaty, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member states.

Russia had hoped that Putin and US President Joe Biden could discuss the treaty at a summit in Geneva later this month.

But the Biden administration told Moscow in May that it would not rejoin the pact after the Trump administration left it last year.

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The Kremlin said Monday that the US decision to withdraw from the treaty had severely disrupted “the balance of interests” among members of the pact and forced Russia to withdraw.

“This has seriously damaged compliance with the treaty and its importance for building confidence and transparency, and has created a threat to Russia’s national security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

Moscow had hoped Biden would reverse his predecessor’s decision. But the Biden government did not change course, accusing Russia of violating the pact, which Moscow denied.

In January, Russia announced its own plans to leave the treaty, and the government passed a law to parliament last month to formalize its exit.

Russian officials said they regret the US decision not to rejoin, calling it a “political mistake” and warning that the move would not create an atmosphere conducive to arms control talks at the Geneva summit later this month.

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