MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti)
French observers will conduct inspection flights over Russia and Belarus under the Open Skies Treaty, while Russian inspectors will do the same over the territory of Norway, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.
“In the period from October 15 to 20, a French mission will conduct a surveillance flight on board of a C-130H surveillance aircraft over the territory of the Russian Federation under the international Treaty on Open Skies, and a group of Russian inspectors on board of an Antonov An-30B will conduct a surveillance flight over the territory of Norway between October 15 and 19,” the spokesman said.
He also said that the French mission will be conducting flights on board of the aircraft that is not intended to carry weapons and was certified by international experts and specialists, including from Russia.
The Open Skies Treaty, signed in 1992 on an initiative of U.S. President George H.W. Bush, established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities.
The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002 and its regime covers the national territories (land, islands, and internal and territorial waters) of all the treaty signatory states. It is an important element of the European security structure.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).