Trump to dump arms treaty after Beijing refuses to sign on
President Donald Trump is set to fire a new international relations missile by telling Russia the US is going to dump a major arms control accord after Beijing point-blank refused to sign up to the treaty.
It is expected Mr Trump will tell Moscow Friday US time that he no longer wants America to be part of the nearly-30 year old Open Skies Treaty which allows nations to carry out spy-fly missions over each other's territory to make sure they are not getting ready for war.
The development comes as the US and UK say they will focus on countering Chinese and Russian disinformation following talks between the two country's defence ministers.
Mr Trump will leave the Open Skies treaty after senior administration officials were reported as saying the White House is sick of Moscow violating the accord by restricting spy-fly passovers of areas the US believes are being used for critical Russian military exercises.
And unsurprisingly in the current global climate, there's a China angle in this latest affair too.
Mr Trump is said to be angry that China refuses to sign up to the accord, stoking his desire to leave the arrangement. He was also furious when a Russian spy plan flew directly over his New Jersey golf course in 2017.
Pentagon officials are also upset at what they believe are Russian attempts to use the spy-fly missions to map out vital US infrastructure that could be the target of future cyber attacks.
The Open Skies Treaty was negotiated in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mr Trump's decision to exit the treaty will antagonise European allies, including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, who are also signatories to the treaty.
They will remain in the accord, but have warned that, with Washington's exit, Russia will almost certainly respond by cutting off their flights, too, which the allies use to monitor troop movements on their borders - especially important to the Baltic nations.
The New York Times reports that the pending decision marks the third time Mr Trump has pulled out of a major arms control treaty.
Two years ago, he left the Iran nuclear accord, negotiated by President Barack Obama. Last year he farewelled the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, again saying that he would not participate in a treaty that he said Russia was violating.
Observers believe next of his exit list will be New START, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires weeks after the next presidential inauguration.
US, UK PLEDGE TO COMBAT CHINESE DISINFORMATION
The US and UK say they will focus on countering Chinese and Russian disinformation, following talks between the two country's defence ministers.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his US counterpart Mark Esper spoke by phone about their ongoing contributions to the NATO alliance.
A statement released by the UK government said the ministers discussed "strengthening NATO" to maintain "military readiness in the era of constant competition," despite the pandemic.
"They also discussed concerns about Russian and Chinese disinformation and agreed to continue to work together to mitigate the effects of this malign activity," the statement said.
US-China relations have deteriorated since the pandemic, with US President Donald Trump lashing out at Beijing for allowing the virus to spread from Wuhan, where it emerged, to the rest of the world.
China has responded by engaging in aggressive so-called "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy, mocking the Trump Administration's response to the health crisis.
Some Chinese government figures have pushed disinformation claiming the virus was imported into China by the United States.