Russia will conduct an observation flight over Greece under the Treaty on Open Skies between Feb. 9 and Feb. 13, Sergei Ryzhkov, head of Russia’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, announced Monday. The flight is expected to promote transparency in military activities between the two countries.
The observation flight will be carried out at a maximum range of about 628 miles, while a group of Greek specialists will also board the Russian aircraft to monitor the flight and ensure that the treaty's norms are not violated. According to the U.S. Department of State, the Treaty on Open Skies allows 34 member countries to carry out observation flights over each other's territories to gather information through aerial imaging on military forces and activities that are of concern to them.
“Within the framework of the international Treaty on Open Skies a group of Russian inspectors plans to conduct an observation flight on a Russian Antonov An-30 aircraft over the territory of the Greek Republic," RIA Novosti quoted Ryzhkov, as saying. “The observation flight is being carried out in order to promote more openness and transparency in the military activity of the treaty’s member-states.”
This will be the first observation flight conducted by Russia in 2015. In December, Moscow guided a similar flight over the U.S., covering a maximum range of 2,640 miles. Signed in March 1992 in Helsinki, the Treaty on Open Skies came into force on Jan. 1, 2002. Russia had ratified the treaty on May 26, 2001.
The announcement about the latest observation flight comes at a time when relations between Russia and the new government in Greece have started to warm.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit Moscow. Tsipras, who recently said he did not support expanding European Union sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, is expected to visit Russia on May 9.