Is That a Russian Spy Plane?
First, I would like to apologize for the delay in posting this week’s article. I had originally written a post about the notifications in Ukraine allegedly requiring that all Jewish residents register with the government or lose their Ukranian citizenship. As I have heard doubts about the legitimacy of that demand, I decided to write a second article rather than report on something that may or may not be true. Anyway, on to today’s story.
There are obvious tensions between the United States and Russia right now, specifically regarding the aforementioned Ukraine. There is an agreement between the two superpowers, which the article terms the “Open Skies Treaty” which allows Russian intelligence craft to fly over the United States unimpeded. With a wave of new surveillance planes being used by Russia, there is an ongoing debate within the American government about whether or not to certify these new planes as able to fly over the U.S. under the agreement.
According to the article, military and intelligence leaders want to deny certification so that these new planes cannot fly over the country, even though older models conceivably still could. The Secretary of State’s office has stated they are in favor of certifying the new planes. President Obama will apparently present the issue to the National Security Council in the near future for resolution.
“At issue is the Open Skies Treaty. First signed in 1992 and finally ratified in 2002, the treaty adopted by 34 nations allows the safe passage of planes equipped with advanced cameras and sensors that give governments the imagery and data they use to assess everything from compliance with arms control treaties to troop movements,” author Eli Lake writes.
In advocating for certification, the Secretary of State’s office argued that the United States needs to live up to its treaty obligations, and that other signatory countries rely on American intelligence because they lack similar capabilities. To deny Russia certification would likely result in a backlash hurting American intelligence efforts as well, which could trickle down to affect our international allies.
One of the purposes of the treaty is allowing nations to check each other in regards to national nuclear armaments. “The Russian planes, according to U.S. officials involved in the dispute, contain a new sensor package that would allow Moscow to surveil American nuclear assets with a level of precision and detail that makes U.S. military and intelligence leaders deeply uncomfortable,” Lake says.
While the situation in Ukraine has certainly highlighted this disagreement and complicated the certification process, government officials suggest that this would have been an issue even without tensions over Ukraine.