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U.S. withdrawal from treaty draws mixed reviews from lawmakers, NATO partners

The Open Skies pact allowed countries to keep an eye on each other from up above.

NORFOLK, Va. — The United States says Russia isn't playing by the rules, so why should they?

The Open Skies Treaty, with 34 other nations, dates back to 1992. Now, the United States says, it "will no longer be a party" to it.

The pact was designed to reduce the risk of military miscalculations that could lead to war, by allowing short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights such as those conducted by our country. 

The Boeing OC-135-B observation aircraft flies over the other countries to collect data on their military forces and activities.

RELATED: US says it's pulling out of Open Skies surveillance treaty

More than 1,500 such flights have been flown through the years.

But the Trump Administration says that Russia has not complied with the terms of the agreement.

"What I can tell you is that Russia flagrantly and continuously violates its obligations under Open Skies and implements the treaty in ways that contribute to military threats against the United States and its allies and partners," said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. "We have been clear on these concepts for years. Again, we're committed to our treaty obligations. But in this era of Great Power Competition, we're looking to advocate for agreements that benefit all sides, that includes partners that comply responsibly with their obligations."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said, "These unprecedented violations make clear Russia's lack of commitment to the treaty. "

But House Armed Services Committee Chairman  Adam Smith (D-Washington) said, "The administration's decision to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty is a slap in the face to our allies in Europe."

The foreign ministries of ten NATO allies expressed regret today over the U.S. decision, calling the treaty "a crucial element...to improve transparency and security across the Euro-Atlantic area."

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