• The treaty is scheduled to expire early next year
  • Administration officials have accused Russia of cheating for years
  • The treaty allows for overflights to assure the other country is not preparing for war

President Trump reportedly has decided to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty with Russia that allowed the two countries to fly over each other’s territory to make sure neither was preparing for war. The administration is expected to inform Moscow formally of the decision Friday.

The Washington Post said the administration began informing allies this week.

The Open Skies Treaty was originally proposed in 1955 by President Dwight Eisenhower but was rejected by the Soviet Union. It was finally negotiated with Russia in 1992 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and breakup of the Soviet Union, and took effect in 2002.

The treaty also involves Canada, Kazakhstan and 30 countries in Europe.

Trump has been considering withdrawal since October in part because of Russian violations, development in recent years of sophisticated satellite technology and Russian use of the flights to gather intelligence on U.S. infrastructure and military facilities.

“They [Russia] have been cheating for many years,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the Senate Armed Services Committee after Russia blocked U.S. flights over Kaliningrad, which borders South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Russia recognizes as independent nations that are not subject to the treaty.

Aging equipment also is a problem. At the end of April, the U.S. had just one plane available for Russian overflights.

DefenseNews quoted a European source as saying that though Russia has had compliance issues, there were indications those were being addressed, adding it was unclear what a U.S. withdrawal would mean to the future of the pact.

“If you’re Russia, you can stay in and take the moral high ground, say, ‘We still honor international treaties even if America doesn’t,’ or you can say the treaty is diminished beyond usefulness and you pull out. I don’t know which they’ll do, but neither is good for NATO," the source said.

Trump reportedly was angered by a 2017 overflight of his Bedminister, New Jersey, golf club.

The Brookings Institution calls a decision to withdraw “unwise” and another blow to arms control efforts. The Trump administration already has ditched the nuclear deal with Iran, refused to seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and declined a Russian offer to extend the 2019 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires next year.

Leading congressional Democrats have urged the administration not to pull out of the treaty.

“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,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, and Sens. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bob Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote in an April 7 statement.

“During a time when we need to push back against Russian aggression, we cannot continue to undermine our alliances—which is exactly what U.S. withdrawal from this treaty would do.”

Trump had been pushing China to join the Open Skies Treaty, an idea that was rejected by