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Turkey canceled Russian surveillance flight due to lack of route coordination — diplomat

February 04, 12:11 UTC+3 ANKARA
The route was expected to include the observation of areas adjacent to the Syrian border and airfields where NATO aircraft are concentrated
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© Lyudmila Pakhomova/ITAR-TASS

ANKARA, February 4. /TASS/. Turkey’s decision to cancel a surveillance flight by a Russian plane over Turkey under the Open Skies Treaty was prompted by the failure to agree on the plane’s flight route, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgicha said on Thursday.

Russian inspectors were expected to make an observation flight over the territory of Turkey on February 1-5 aboard an Antonov An-30B plane.

However, Sergey Ryzhkov, chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s department for control of the implementation of treaties, said in Moscow on Wednesday that "no preliminary conditions or restrictions for Russia’s surveillance flight were voiced by the Turkish side."

The route was expected to include the observation of areas adjacent to the Syrian border and airfields where NATO aircraft are concentrated.

However, after the arrival of the Russian mission in Turkey and the announcement of the planned route of the observation flight, the Turkish military denied the opportunity to conduct it citing an instruction from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.

"As a result of violations of the requirements of the Treaty and unconstructive actions on the part of Turkey, a dangerous precedent was created of an uncontrolled military activity of an Open Skies Treaty member state," Ryzhkov said.

Open Skies Treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. It entered into force in 2002. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries.

The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.

Turkey claims Russia violated its airspace

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on January 30 claimed that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet violated its airspace on January 29. "Yesterday the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Su-34 violated Turkish airspace. Before the violation, Turkish radar stations repeatedly warned the Russian aircraft in Russian and in English," the statement said.

It said that on January 29 in the evening "the ambassador of the Russian Federation was summoned to the ministry" and a protest was lodged to him in connection with what happened. The Turkish ministry did not state where the alleged airspace violation occurred exactly.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on January 30 denied claims by Turkey that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet allegedly violated Turkish airspace on Friday.

"There have been no violations of Turkey’s airspace by aircraft of the Russian air group in the Syrian Arab Republic," the ministry said.

"Statements by the Turkish side of an alleged case of violation by the Russian Su-34 aircraft of airspace are unsubstantiated propaganda," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

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