Cruz, Cotton: US should withdraw from surveillance flight treaty

Cruz, Cotton: US should withdraw from surveillance flight treaty
© Aaron Schwartz

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators at White House Senators confirm Erdoğan played 'propaganda' video in White House meeting MORE (R-Texas) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Schumer concerned by Army's use of TikTok, other Chinese social media platforms Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising MORE (R-Ark.) on Wednesday introduced a resolution to withdraw the U.S. from the Open Skies Treaty, which allows treaty members to fly unarmed observation flights over the territory of other signatories. 

“Russia is in open violation of the Open Skies Treaty,” Cruz said in a statement. “It enhances Russia’s surveillance of major American cities, strengthens Russia’s espionage capabilities, and costs the United States millions of dollars. The treaty no longer serves America’s national security interests, and it is long past time the United States withdraw.”

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Cotton added, "The Open Skies Treaty could be more appropriately named the 'Russian Spies Over America Treaty.' America ought to withdraw from this flawed accord, which invites Russia to fly spy planes over our houses while Putin violates the treaty by restricting U.S. flights over Russia." 

The treaty, which has been in effect since 2002, is intended to increase transparency and minimize military miscalculations among its 34 signatories. 

Republicans have said for years that Russia was in violation of the pact by blocking flights over parts of its territory. Democrats have agreed that Russia's actions were concerning but have argued that they should be addressed while the U.S. remains part of the accord. 

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE's nominee to be ambassador to Russia, said Wednesday that the U.S. has not withdrawn from the treaty.

“There would need to be substantial evidence to support the national security interest for withdrawal from that treaty, and there would need to be consultations with this committee, with Congress and, in particular, with our NATO allies and the other countries that are members of the treaty,” he said during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  

Withdrawing from the treaty would require a formal notice to its other members, launching a six-month exit process.