Russia Conducting Open Skies Observation Flights Over Turkey

Russia has begun observation flights over Turkey from the Open Skies airfield of Eskisehir under the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies on Feb. 25.

The observation flights will be performed until Feb. 28. The maximum flight range will be 1,900 km. The observation is being carried out by the Russian Tu-154M-LK-1 surveillance plane.

The Tu-154M-LK-1 aircraft will be strictly following the route earlier approved by Turkey and Turkish specialists on board the plane will be controlling the use of the surveillance equipment and observation of the Treaty provisions.

The Treaty on Open Skies, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its 34 participants.

Aerial reconnaissance flights on the basis of the Open Skies Treaty are conducted in order to verify that the arms control agreements in force are respected by the overflown country. The flights can be carried out over the whole territory of the country with the only exception is for flight safety reasons (i.e, not for reasons of national security).

The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.

The 34 state parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed the treaty but has not yet ratified it.

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