Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia

Four top defense and foreign policy Democrats in the House and Senate are raising the alarm about the possibility of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi hits back at Trump over letter: ‘Only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy’ Trump directed Perry, State Dept. officials to talk to Giuliani on Ukraine: report Murkowski warns against rushing to conclusions on Trump impeachment MORE withdrawing from a multilateral treaty they argue is a “critical element” of U.S. and European security.

At issue is the Open Skies Treaty, which allows the pact’s 34 signatories, including the United States and Russia, to fly unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of other signatories.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We understand the administration is considering withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty and urge you not to do so. Withdrawing from the Treaty would be contrary to U.S. national security, and is apparently moving forward without any notice or consultation with Congress,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump defends Turkey amid fierce criticism | Senators demand briefing on Syria decision | Turkey confirms strikes on Syrian border | White House says it won’t cooperate on impeachment inquiry Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia Pentagon insists it was consulted ahead of Syria move MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoProspects dim for breakthrough in Trump’s trade war with China Budowsky: Biden and Warren at POTUS Rubicon Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia MORE. “We understand agencies have been directed not even to discuss this matter with Congress.”

The letter was signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTop Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters Democrats question Pence, Perry on travel to Ukraine MSNBC signs Alicia Menendez as weekend anchor MORE (D-N.J.), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia Yes, President Trump, we do have a homelessness crisis and you’re making it harder for us to address Negotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates MORE (D-R.I.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelTrump fires back on impeachment Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia Democrats subpoena Sondland for testimony, documents MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia This year, let’s cancel the Nobel Prize in economics Pentagon space agency to request .6 billion over five years: report MORE (D-Wash.).

Asked what prompted the letter, a spokeswoman for the House Armed Services Committee highlighted former national security advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia Susan Rice: ‘Wheels have come off the bus’ at Trump’s National Security Council Trump has ordered national security staff cut: report MORE‘s opposition to arms control agreements. Pressed on if anything has happened since Bolton’s ouster last month, the spokeswoman did not immediately reply.

Engel also sent his own letter Monday to national security adviser Robert O’Brien warning against an Open Skies withdrawal, citing unspecified “reports” that the administration is considering the move.

Republicans for years used have accused Russia of violating the treaty by blocking flights over some of its territory.

Russian President “Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHillicon Valley: Senate Intel report urges action to prevent 2020 Russian meddling | Republicans warn Microsoft of ‘urgent’ Huawei threat | Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans’ rights Budowsky: Biden and Warren at POTUS Rubicon Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia MORE has violated the Open Skies Treaty for years while continuing to benefit from surveillance flights over the United States,” Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: Senate Intel report urges action to prevent 2020 Russian meddling | Republicans warn Microsoft of ‘urgent’ Huawei threat | Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans’ rights Top Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia GOP senators warn Microsoft of ‘urgent’ threat from Huawei MORE (R-Ark.) said in a statement Tuesday. “The president should withdraw from the treaty and redeploy the hundreds of millions of dollars the Pentagon wastes on Open Skies flights and equipment to increase U.S. combat power.”

But Democrats argue the treaty provides an invaluable tool to monitor Russian military capabilities.

The United States has also used the flights in recent years to show support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. In 2018, after Russia seized two Ukrainian naval ships transiting the Kerch Strait, the United States conducted an Open Skies flight over Ukraine to “reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine.” The U.S. military also conducted an Open Skies flight over Ukraine in 2014 in response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

Some Republicans, too, continue to support the treaty. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said in a statement Tuesday that “we get valuable access to Russian airspace and military airfields on short notice” and that he has “yet to see a compelling reason to withdraw from Open Skies.”

U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal, also Tuesday morning retweeted Bacon’s support for the treaty as something that “helps build confidence & increase transparency.”

In their letter, Menendez, Reed, Engel and Smith argued that withdrawing from Open Skies “would be yet another gift from the Trump administration to Putin.”

“Withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty would be perceived as casting further doubt on the status of the United States commitment to Ukraine’s security and would advance the Russian narrative that the United States is an unreliable partner in the region,” the lawmakers wrote, in an apparent reference to the House impeachment inquiry into whether Trump leveraged U.S. aid to Ukraine to pressure its leaders to investigate political rival former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi hits back at Trump over letter: ‘Only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy’ Clinton jokes she could ‘obviously’ beat Trump in 2020 ‘rematch’ Gowdy in talks to join Trump’s impeachment defense team MORE.

The lawmakers also highlighted that this year’s House-passed version of the annual defense policy bill would prohibit funding to withdraw from Open Skies unless all other signatories agree Russia is in material breach.

The letter also slammed the administration for not consulting with Congress or U.S. allies about the issue. 

“If the president withdraws from this landmark treaty, it will fundamentally demean and devalue the United States commitment to treaties and other international obligations,” they wrote. “We request that you not move forward with any action to withdraw or impair the United States as a party to the treaty absent, at minimum, meaningful consultation with Congress.”

Updated at 7:12 p.m.

Click Here: Atlanta United FC Jersey

Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *