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Russia Reportedly Plans To Ask For Spy-Plane Flights Over U.S.

  • RFE/RL

Russia is planning to ask permission on February 22 to start flying surveillance planes equipped with high-powered digital cameras over the United States, the Associated Press reports.

The report comes amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and military officials that such overflights help Moscow collect intelligence on the United States.

The AP report quotes an unnamed U.S. congressional staffer as saying Russia plans to make the request to the Vienna-based Open Skies Consultative Commission.

Russia and the United States are both signatories to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member states.

The treaty is aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping to monitor arms-control agreements.

The U.S. State Department said in its latest compliance report that Russia was failing to meet all of its obligations under the treaty.

On February 19, Russia complained that Turkey had failed to meet its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty since it closed its air space to Russian military flights in a dispute over what Ankara says have been Russian warplane incursions over its territory.

Russia said Turkey's move, which came at the request of the Foreign Ministry in Ankara, caused "alarm for the integrity and viability of the treaty as an effective means to strengthen trust and security."

With reporting by AP and TASS