“This decision would have far-reaching, negative repercussions for our European allies, who rely on this treaty to keep Russia accountable for its military actions in the region. During a time when we need to push back against Russian aggression, we cannot continue to undermine our alliances – which is exactly what US withdrawal from this treaty would do,” House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Democrat Jack Reed and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Bob Menendez said in a joint press release on Tuesday.
The release called attention to the Trump administration’s timing for the change, in the midst of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, presumably because the public is overly distracted by reports on the ongoing disease.
The lawmakers urged the administration to reverse course, rather than “ramming it through” while the United States and the entire world grapples with a deadly pandemic.
The Trump administration has said it has not made a final decision on whether to remain a party to the 1992 treaty.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper told Congress last month that the Pentagon would delay funding for new or upgraded aircraft to conduct overflights until a decision is reached.
In the name of global transparency, the treaty allows signatories, including the United States and Russia, to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other's territories to collect data on military activities.