MILMAG Defence & Space 02/2020 »

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Open Skies over Russia and Belarus

Three NATO member states, USA, Estonia and Lithuania organized a series of joint observation flights over Russia and Belarus. The flights were conducted between 19th-20th February under the Open Skies Agreement. Their aim was to record and monitor the development of military installations over the Western Military District of the Russian Federation and in Belarus.

The US, Estonia and Lithuania monitored the development of Russian and Belarusian military infrastructure through observation flights / Picture: Estonian MoD

On 19th February an observation flight was conducted on the route Kubinka-Belarus-Kaliningrad. Later during that day another flight over Kaliningrad took place. A flight Kaliningrad-St Petersburg-Kubinka, which was originally planned on 20th February, was affected by severe weather conditions.

‘Open Skies is an important part of Estonia's arms control activities. This gives us a better opportunity to monitor developments of the military infrastructure of our eastern neighbour. The limiting factor could be the weather conditions, which had to be acknowledged for this flight. In addition to observing military installations, these flights allow the Estonian Defense Forces to develop co-operation with important allies and partners’, said Lieutenant Colonel Peeter Kõiv, Chief of Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces General Staff.

The Open Skies Treaty is part of the international security and confidence building measure initiative. The purpose of the agreement is to develop openness, security and trust between participating states, but the narrower purpose is to gather information about military forces and military activities of 3rd party, neighbouring states.

Based on a press release from the Estonian MoD

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