22:03 GMT15 May 2021
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    Russian observation aircraft to conduct observation flight over Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg under the Treaty on Open Skies, while French inspectors will fly over the territories of Russia and Belarus.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian inspectors will conduct an observation flight over Germany, as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, on March 16-21 under the Treaty on Open Skies, head of Russia's National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center Sergei Ryzhkov announced.

    The treaty, signed on March 24, 1992, in Helsinki, established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member-states, which include the majority of NATO countries, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Sweden and Finland. Its purpose is to increase mutual understanding and promote transparency of military activities. Russia ratified the Treaty on Open Skies on May 26, 2001.

    The routes of the flights have been agreed upon with the countries being inspected and specialists from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg will be present on board the Russian aircraft to monitor the use of equipment and Russian inspectors' adherence to the Treaty on Open Skies, Ryzhkov said.

    "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.

    According to Ryzhkov, the Benelux flight will be carried out at a maximum range of 945 kilometers (587 miles), while the one above German territory will be conducted at a maximum range of 1,300 kilometers (808 miles).

    Meanwhile, French inspectors will conduct an observation flight over the territories of Russia and Belarus on March 16-20, head of Russia's National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center said.

    The flight will be carried out 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.


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    France, observation flight, Treaty on Open Skies, Lockheed C-130 Hercules, An-30B, Belarus, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Russia
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