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The Importance of the Open Skies Treaty

Joint Hearing with the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Members

Representative Joe Wilson

Ranking Member

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Representative Emanuel Cleaver

Commissioner

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Representative William Keating

Chair

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Adam Kinzinger

Ranking Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Tim Burchett

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Jim Costa

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative David Cicilline

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Michael Guest

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Greg Pence

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Albio Sires

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Abigail Spanberger

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Ann Wagner

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Susan Wild

Member

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment

Representative Jimmy Panetta

Member

U.S. House of Representatives

Witnesses

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Jon Wolfsthal

Director, Nuclear Crisis Group

Senior Advisor, Global Zero

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Damian Leader, Ph.D.

Professor, New York University

Former Chief Arms Control Delegate for the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)

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Amy Woolf

Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy

Congressional Research Services

The Trump administration reportedly is considering withdrawing the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, a key arms control agreement that has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades. The treaty underpins security and stability in Europe by providing for unarmed aerial observation flights over its 34 signatories. The treaty allows even small countries greater awareness of military activities around them—more crucial than ever given the Kremlin’s demonstrated willingness to violate established borders.

The principles of military transparency embodied by the treaty flow from the same fundamental commitments that led to the creation of today’s Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Open Skies Consultative Commission, which oversees implementation of the treaty, meets monthly at OSCE headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Witnesses at the hearing, organized jointly with the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, explored the continued contributions of the Open Skies Treaty to the security of the United States, as well as its benefits to U.S. allies and partners. Witnesses also assessed Russia’s partial non-compliance with elements of the treaty and strategies to address this challenge, and evaluated the implications of a possible U.S. withdrawal on security and stability in Europe and Eurasia.

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