Turkish Military Surveillance Jet to Fly Over Russia
The Russian Defense Ministry have stated that a Turkish surveillance plane carrying local and Finnish experts will conduct flights over Russia, a rare permit that comes at a time when the relations between Moscow and Ankara have deteriorated.
The permit, a part of the Treaty on Open Skies, has been granted despite Ankara refusal of such a demand back in February, said the ministry.
Sergey Rijkov, the Russian ministry official in charge of the Treaty on Open Skies, said in a statement that Russian officers will accompany the flights scheduled to begin on June 13 and continue for four days.
The Turkish CN/235 plane will follow a route agreed upon earlier, Rijkov said, highlighting that Turkey refused Moscow’s similar demand in February citing a disagreement on the route in Turkish skies.
At the time, the Turkish Foreign Ministry dismissed accusations from the Russian Defense Ministry, which accused Ankara of breaching the Open Skies Treaty by refusing to allow a reconnaissance plane to fly over Turkish territory near Syria.
According to an implementation conducted since 2006 under the Treaty on Open Skies, Turkey conducts observation flights over Russian airspace approximately four times a year, while Russia conducts observation flights over Turkish airspace approximately twice a year.
In line with the 2016 plans, a Russian An-30B aircraft was due to conduct a surveillance flight over Turkish territory on Feb. 1-5 and Turkish officials would also be on board during the flight, the Turkish General Staff had stated in a Feb. 1 statement.
“Observation flights are performed when the observing Party and the observed Party reach agreement on the mission plan. In the case of the observation flight requested by the Russian Federation for Feb. 2-5, 2016, an agreement could not be reached on the mission plan and the flight has thus not been conducted,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on Feb. 4.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow are at their tensest since the end of the Cold War after the downing of a Russian warplane on Turkey’s border with Syria on Nov. 24 over airspace violations.