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Turkey denies Russia observation flight in framework of Open Skies Treaty

February 03, 19:48 UTC+3
The flight was to be held above Turkey on February 1-5, 2016 on board an An-30B aircraft and no preliminary conditions or restrictions for Russia’s surveillance flight were voiced by the Turkish side
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Karpov

MOSCOW, February 3. /TASS/. Turkey has denied the Russian Federation an observation flight over its territory that was to be held within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty, a senior Russian Defense Ministry official said Wednesday.

Sergey Ryzhkov, chief of the ministry’s department for control of implementation of treaties, recalled that the flight was to be held above Turkey on February 1-5, 2016 on board an An-30B aircraft and "no preliminary conditions or restrictions for Russia’s surveillance flight were voiced by the Turkish side."

"The route supposed, among other things, observation of areas adjacent to the Syrian border and airfields where NATO aircraft are concentrated. But after the arrival of the Russian mission in Turkey and the announcement of the planned route of the observation flight, the Turkish military denied the opportunity to conduct it citing an instruction from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry," Ryzhkov said.

"In this way, as a result of violations of the requirements of the Treaty and unconstructive actions on the part of Turkey, a dangerous precedent was created of an uncontrolled military activity of an Open Skies Treaty member state," he said.

"We are not going to leave without proper attention and relevant reaction violations of the Open Skies Treaty on the part of the Turkish Republic," Ryzhkov said.

On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry official told journalists that another Russian group of inspectors should conduct an inspection in a Turkish region within the framework of another international treaty - the 2011 Vienna document on confidence and security building measures.

Russian inspectors are to visit ranges and get briefed by the Turkish military units command.

Plans for flight

Ryzhkov earlier said Russian inspectors will perform an observation flight over the territory of Turkey within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty.

"As part of implementation of the international Open Skies Treaty, a Russian group of inspectors plans to conduct a surveillance flight on board a Russian An-30B aircraft over the territory of Turkey," he said February 1.

"The observation flight will be performed on February 1-5, 2016 from the Eskisehir airfield," Ryzhkov said, adding that maximum range of the flight will be 1,900 kilometers.

He also said February 1 that the flight would be conducted along an agreed route, and Turkish specialists on board will control the use of surveillance equipment and observation of treaty provisions.

This was supposed to be the first observation flight by Russia over the territories of the Open Skies treaty members in 2016.

Open Skies Treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. It entered into force in 2002. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries.

The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.

Turkey claims Russia violated its airspace

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on January 30 claimed that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet violated its airspace on January 29. "Yesterday the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Su-34 violated Turkish airspace. Before the violation, Turkish radar stations repeatedly warned the Russian aircraft in Russian and in English," the statement said.

It said that on January 29 in the evening "the ambassador of the Russian Federation was summoned to the ministry" and a protest was lodged to him in connection with what happened. The Turkish ministry did not state where the alleged airspace violation occurred exactly.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on January 30 denied claims by Turkey that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet allegedly violated Turkish airspace on Friday.

"There have been no violations of Turkey’s airspace by aircraft of the Russian air group in the Syrian Arab Republic," the ministry said.

"Statements by the Turkish side of an alleged case of violation by the Russian Su-34 aircraft of airspace are unsubstantiated propaganda," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

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