MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday that formalizes Russia’s exit from the Open Skies arms control treaty, a pact that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries.
Russia had hoped that Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden could discuss the treaty when they meet later this month at a summit in Geneva.
But the Biden administration informed Moscow in May that it would not re-enter the pact after the Trump administration quit it last year.
The Kremlin said on Monday that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the treaty had “significantly upset the balance of interests” among the pact’s members and had compelled Russia to exit.
“This caused serious damage to the treaty’s observance and its significance in building confidence and transparency, (causing) a threat to Russia’s national security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
Moscow had hoped that Biden would reverse his predecessor’s decision. But the Biden administration did not change tack, accusing Russia of violating the pact, something Moscow denied. In January, Russia announced its own plans to leave the treaty, and the government submitted legislation to parliament last month to formalize its departure.
Russian officials said they regretted the U.S. decision not to rejoin, calling it a “political mistake” and warned the move would not create an atmosphere conducive to arms control discussions at a the Geneva summit later this month.
Open Skies was signed soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 and came into force in 2002.
The treaty allowed its signatories, including the U.S., Russia, European countries and Canada, to carry out short-notice flights over each other’s territory to monitor potential military operations. It also allowed members to request copies of images taken during surveillance flights carried out by other members.
The treaty was largely intended to defuse potential tension between Russia and the West. However, Moscow and Washington have long accused each other of breaching the terms of the treaty.
The Open Skies was one of several major treaties Trump exited before Biden took office, vowing to enforce an even tougher political stance in regard to Russia.
Days after entering office, Biden, however, extended by five years the New START pact -- the last remaining arms reduction treaty still honored by the former Cold War rivals.