Estonian personnel taking part in Open Skies Treaty Russia overflight

Saab 340 cockpit, the plane to be used in this week's Treaty on Open Skies flight over Russia's Western Military District.
Saab 340 cockpit, the plane to be used in this week's Treaty on Open Skies flight over Russia's Western Military District. Source: Ostersund Photography/Wikimedia Commons

Estonian defense personnel will be involved in an observation flight over Russian Federation territory this week, Baltic News Service reports.

The flight, which will be conducted jointly with U.S. and Lithuanian personnel, comes as part of the Treaty on Open Skies international program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights, and is to take place over the Russian Western Military District, with the objective of photographing the development of Russia's military sites.

The plane to be used is a non-military, Swedish Saab 340 aircraft, according to BNS, and will fly from Kubinka airfield, west of Moscow, between Febrary 17 and 21. The flight will also pass over Belarusian territory, it is reported. The aircraft has been inspected by Russian Federation officials, and will carry only equipment permitted under the terms of the Open Skies Treaty.

According to ERR's online news in Estonian, citing Russian armed forces official newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, Russian military personnel are conducting a similar overflight over Greek territory at the same time, using an Antonov An-30B Russian reconnaissance plane.

The Treaty on Open Skies is an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) measure, aimed at the open gathering and dissemination of information on military forces and facilities, according to BNS.

The treaty was signed in Helsinki in 1992. To date, 33 OSCE countries, including all NATO member states, have acceded to the agreement. Estonia signed up to the treaty in 2005. Russia and Belarus ratified the original treaty, after which it came into force at the beginning of 2002.

The Russian Western Military District was created as part of the 2008 military reforms and primarily comprises the western central region of European Russia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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