Russia seals withdrawal of Open Skies Treaty
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a bill to withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities, following the US exit from the pact.
The bill was endorsed by Russian lawmakers after US officials told Moscow last month that President Joe Biden's administration had decided not to reenter the Open Skies Treaty that the US left under President Donald Trump.
As a presidential candidate, Biden had criticized Trump's withdrawal as "short-sighted."
Moscow had signaled its readiness to reverse the withdrawal procedure and stay in the 1992 treaty if the United States returned to the agreement, but now Putin's signature seals the Russian withdrawal that would take effect in six months.
The Open Skies Treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord's more than three dozen signatories to carry out surveillance flights over each other's territories to oversee troop deployments and other military activities.
More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty since it took effect in 2002, helping monitor arms control agreements.
Trump pulled out of the pact last year, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for Washington.