Russia to perform observation flights over Turkey 'Open Skies' surveillance flights come amid tension over Turkish airspace violation by Russia

ANKARA (AA) – Despite tensions over a Russian warplane which violated Turkish airspace on Friday, an agreed program of observation flights by Russian surveillance aircraft will take place over Turkey this week.

Turkey’s military confirmed on Monday that Russia is due to conduct unarmed observation flights over Turkish territory from Monday to Friday.

The surveillance will be performed under the terms of the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies which facilitates flights by unarmed surveillance craft over foreign states, according to a statement published on the Turkish General Staff’s website.

Turkey performs on average four surveillance flights over Russian territory every year, while Russian inspectors conduct two flights in Turkey, the statement added.

A team of Turkish specialists will be on board to monitor the flights.

Turkey signed the Open Skies treaty in 1994.

Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent airspace violation by Russia.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Saturday that a Russian fighter jet — a SU-34 fighter-bomber — violated Turkish airspace on Friday at midday despite repeated warnings by Turkish air radar units in Russian and English.

Following Friday’s breach, Turkish Air Force declared an ‘orange alert’ in key bases around the country, military sources said on Saturday.

In late November, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol had intercepted a Russian military plane within the rules of engagement when it intruded into Turkish airspace on the Turkey-Syria border.

The intruding jet was warned about the violation 10 times within five minutes before it was shot down.

After the incident Russia imposed a range of unilateral economic sanctions against Turkey including a ban on food imports.

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