MOSCOW, December 10 (Itar-Tass) — Russian inspectors will begin to make observation flights on Monday over the territories of Spain and Portugal under the Open-Skies Treaty, an official at the RF Defence Ministry's press-service and information department told Itar-Tass.
"The flights will be made within a period from December 10 to 15 aboard a Tu-154M Lk-1 plane," the Defence Ministry official specified. "The plane will be taking off from Portugal's Lisbon airfield and fly along an earlier agreed route, the maximum distance of which will be 3,000 km".
Russian specialists aboard the plane together with their counterparts will be monitoring the procedure for the use of the observation system instrumentation and compliance with the existing accords, the Department official said.
"This year, those will be the 37th and 38th observation flights by Russia's representatives over the territories of countries that are Parties to the Treaty," the Defence Ministry official pointed out.
The Treaty on Open Skies (TOS) was signed in 1992. Thirty-four countries are parties to the Treaty. Observation flights are made over the territories of the United States, Canada, European countries, and Russia. The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations within the scope of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and other relevant international organizations. Subsequently, it is contemplated to apply the open skies regime to new fields, such as environmental protection.