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Russia to respond if US restricts observation flights

IANS | Moscow |

Moscow will scrutinise a reported US intention to limit Russian observation flights and will take measures in response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said here on Thursday.

Russia will evaluate whether the possible restriction violates the Treaty on Open Skies, Xinhua quoted her as saying.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials look to limit Russian observation flights over US territory as Russia has violated the Treaty on Open Skies by restricting US and its allies’ monitoring missions over its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and other areas.

“Some of our partners spent most of the 5,500 km quota circling over Kaliningrad, disturbing air traffic in the tight airspace. Therefore, we were forced to set a 500 km cap for them over the region,” Zakharova said, adding that other Russian restrictions were also well grounded.

The Treaty on Open Skies, signed in 1992 and went into force in 2002, is one of the major confidence-building and arms-control measures after the Cold War. It allows unarmed observation flights over its member states to gather information about each other’s military forces and activities.

The treaty currently has 34 party states, including Russia and most members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.