Open Skies: Russian Inspectors to Fly Over Europe
Head of Russia's National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center Sergei Ryzhkov said under the Treaty on Open Skies Russian inspectors are to conduct an observation flight over the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, on March 16-21.
According to the Treaty, 34 member-states are allowed to conduct unarmed aerial observation flights over their territories. The list of states include the majority of NATO countries, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden and Finland. The document has the aim to increase mutual understanding and promote transparency of military activities. Russia ratified the Open Skies Treaty on May 26, 2001.
"On March 21-16 under the international Treaty on Open Skies a group of Russian inspectors plans to conduct observation flights aboard the Russian Antonov An-30B observation aircraft above the territories of Benelux and Germany," Ryzhkov said. These will be Russia's seventh and eighth Open Skies observation flights conducted this year. The flight is to be carried out at a maximum range of 587 miles, but above Germany it will be conducted at a maximum range of 808 miles.
Ryzhkov noticed that French inspectors are expected to conduct an observation flight over Russia and Belarus on March 16-20, using the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. "The plane and the observation equipment installed on it have passed an international inspection, in which Russian specialists took part, and thus the possibility of the use of technical means not stipulated by the Treaty on Open Skies is excluded," Ryzhkov said.