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.
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).
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.