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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian Military Inspectors to Fly Over Estonia, Finland

RIA Novosti

06:11 14/07/2013

MOSCOW, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military inspectors will make surveillance flights over the territories of Estonia and Finland under the international Open Skies Treaty starting from Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"As part of implementing the international Open Skies Treaty, a group of Russian inspectors on board an An-30B aircraft are planned to conduct surveillance flights over Estonia and Finland from July 14 to 20," the statement reads.

The takeoffs will take place from the airports of Tartu Ulenurme (Estonia) and Helsinki-Vantaa (Finland). The Russian plane will cover a maximum distance of 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) and 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), respectively.

"The Russian observation aircraft will perform its flight in accordance with the previously agreed routes, and Estonian and Finnish experts on board will oversee the proper use of surveillance equipment and compliance with the treaty's provisions," the ministry said.

It will be Russia's 21st and 22nd observation flights this year under the agreement.

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes 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. Russia ratified the deal in May 2001.

Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.

The image data recorded during the observation flights can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.

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