Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the State Duma Elena Strokova commented on the upcoming observation flights of the United States and Ukraine over Russia
The Treaty on the Open Skies was signed by twenty-seven states that are members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on March 24, 1992 in Helsinki. According to the Treaty, it was envisaged that other states could join it. Thirty-four states are parties to the Treaty to date. The Treaty aimed to develop security through an open sky and the possibility of surveillance from the air. In particular, it was envisaged to fly around each other’s territory to monitor military activities within the framework of the commitments undertaken by the parties in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The parties to the treaty also considered the possibility of expanding the activities of the treaty, including in terms of monitoring the state of the environment, as well as resolving crisis and conflict situations on the territory of the states that signed the agreement.
According to the announcement, submitted by the Ministry of Defense of Russia, observation flights over the territory of the Russian Federation will be carried out from June 19 to 24 by pilots of the United States and Ukraine. On board foreign aircraft, which is provided for by the Treaty, there will be specialists from our country. The flight is scheduled to take place on the OS-135B aircraft, which previously passed an international survey, in which experts from countries of planned inspection flights are necessarily participating. This is necessary in order to exclude the possibility of using technical means not provided for in the contract. It should be understood that this is an ordinary event, stipulated by preliminary agreements, and the number of such inspections is quoted in advance for each state. The previous inspection flight over the territory of the Russian Federation took place a little less than a year ago – in August 2016. As for Russian inspections, in 2017, two flights are planned over the territories of the states parties to the treaty, which our specialists will carry out in accordance with the agreed route with the parties observed, and US specialists will monitor the use of surveillance equipment and compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.