‘We will pull out’: Trump signals US withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty, cites Russian violations

President Donald Trump has issued another bold proclamation regarding an international treaty — and it is not sitting well with a lot of people.

According to The Hill, Trump confirmed on Thursday that the U.S. “will pull out” of the Open Skies Treaty, citing Russian noncompliance as the driving factor behind his decision.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty”

The president has previously called for American withdrawal from international agreements when he felt other member countries did not follow the rules, as the Boston Globe reported.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out,” Trump said in defense of his latest decision, according to Reuters.

The Open Skies Treaty allows more than 30 nations to carry out reconnaissance flights in each other’s airspace as a means to conduct peaceful monitoring without the risk of an armed conflict.

Trump contends that Russia is in clear violation of the treaty’s conditions, though his prescribed remedy was met with criticism at home and around the world. In response, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Russia’s “ongoing selective implementation of its obligations” is concerning, though Stoltenberg said it did not warrant the perceived risk of a U.S. pull-out, The Hill reported.

“NATO Allies will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment,” Stoltenberg said, according to The Hill. “Allies also remain open to dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency.”

“They’re going to come back”

The president did signal that further international dialogue could result in the restoration of a similar agreement in the future.

“I think what’s going to happen is, we’re going to pull out and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal,” Trump said, as The Hill reported. “We’ve had a very good relationship, lately, with Russia.”

While Russia has been criticized for limiting flights over Kaliningrad in apparent violation of the treaty, the Brookings Institution noted that America “responded proportionately within the treaty” by restricting airspace over Hawaii, according to Forbes.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, maintained that the U.S. will not “perpetuate the Treaty’s current problems of Russian-engendered threat and distrust simply in order to maintain an empty facade of cooperation with Moscow,” The Hill noted.

This is not the first time Trump has argued for unilateral withdrawal from such an agreement — and it is not the first time he has been vilified for it. As his first term comes to an end, however, supporters continue to stand behind his impulse to take decisive steps in the face of perceived injustice.

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