World Politics

The Russians Are Loving Trump’s Decision to Withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty

President Donald J. Trump has announced the U.S. intends to exit the “Open Skies” treaty. The 34-nation agreement allows the United States, Russia and other countries to conduct observation flights over each other’s territories in the interests of transparency and international security. 

An infectious disease specialist for the Russian Health Ministry said Trump must really be taking hydroxychloroquine, since it’s known to cause psychotic side effects.  

Speaking to reporters, Trump said: “We’re going to pull out, and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal. We’ve had a very good relationship lately with Russia.” 

While the Trump administration is citing Russia’s various violations of the agreement as the main reason for the U.S. withdrawal, Russian experts and government officials believe that the abrupt decision is rooted in Trump’s desire to throw all international treaties out the window in pursuit of a bigger, better deal which he can claim to pursue during his election campaign even if it comes to nothing.

Such flippant methods may work for reality television, but tend to backfire in real life. Case in point, Trump’s gambit with Iran, where U.S withdrawal from the nuclear deal led to the expansion of Tehran’s nuclear stockpile.

Now that Trump reportedly is toying with the idea of resuming nuclear testing as well, the Kremlin intends to take full advantage of that harebrained idea.

Washington’s approach reportedly is rooted in the flawed assumption that renewed nuclear testing would prompt the Kremlin to pressure the Chinese into joining a trilateral agreement with the United States and Russia. This concept was dismissed out of hand by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. During an online forum conducted by the Gorchakov Fund, a Russian think tank, Ryabkov asserted that the Kremlin didn’t intend to apply any pressure to China to please Washington.  

Instead of playing along with Trump’s dangerous brinkmanship, Russia may pull out of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty altogether. Alexei Fenenko, an associate professor of global politics at Moscow State University, told the state media outlet RIA Novosti that such a withdrawal would be “beneficial for Russia, since the collapse of this treaty would cause colossal damage to the United States of America.” State media outlet Vesti surmised that such a move would obliterate all of Washington’s efforts and decades-long investments in the nuclear ban treaty.

Instead of playing along with Trump’s dangerous brinkmanship, Russia may pull out of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty altogether.

As for the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clarified that it is set to take place six months from now, on Nov. 22, 2020, after the next presidential election in the United States.

In Russia, Trump’s commentary and the timing of the intended withdrawal from Open Skies were interpreted as a sign that the move is merely political, with no tangible repercussions for the Kremlin. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov mentioned that the Kremlin’s exchanges with Washington were taking place via the traditional and non-traditional channels, but described the Trump administration’s demands and ultimatums as “senseless” and “categorically unacceptable.”

Russian state-owned radio station Vesti FM described Trump’s dangerous flailing on the international arena as his desire “to play with toy soldiers.”

The Kremlin’s state media have grown used to laughing at Trump’s irrational bluster. Appearing on the state TV show 60 Minutes earlier this week, Elena Malinnikova, an infectious disease specialist for the Russian Health Ministry, said that Trump must really be taking the regimen of hydroxychloroquine, since it’s known to cause psychotic side effects.  

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