Czech and American soldiers monitor the Russia-Ukraine border

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

An American and Czech team carried out the observation flight over territory of the Russian Federation from 21st to 25th April, 2014, in accordance with the Treaty on Open Skies.

The four-member team of experts from the Czech Arms Control Agency, led by Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Supsak, was part of the inspection team that was commanded by American Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Johnson. There were also six Russian experts aboard the American observation aircraft.

”Because of the current situation, the flight route had been modified, and the flight followed the outline of the Russia-Ukraine border. Representatives of the Russian Federation had agreed to our plan, and the monitored flights were carried out without the slightest problem,” LTC Supsak explained.

The American aircraft OC-135B has flown two sorties from Kubinka airport, near Moscow, which totalled six flight hours for each sortie, while the whole route added up to about five thousand kilometres. According to LTC Supsak,”The Russians are experts at this; they have been doing it for years, and they certainly know their limitations. The whole procedure was executed perfectly and completely in accordance with the Open Skies Treaty agreement”.

"We took photos and videos of the territory from the aircraft of significant strategic facilities: military bases, important storage areas, nuclear power plants, dams, etc..," LTC Supsak went on to explain. There was only one drawback; “The cameras of this special aircraft are not allowed to identify objects smaller than 30 centimetres. Therefore, the minimum flight level is adjusted for each individual observation aircraft. That is why our minimum flight level was three kilometres," added LTC Supsak.

“The Americans will develop the films and photos, and will keep the originals. They will give copies to the Russians and to us. Later, the photos and films will be analysed by military experts, and will then be made available to other parties of the Open Skies Treaty,” said LTC Supsak, after the observation aircraft had landed at the Czech Pardubice airport on Friday, 25 April 2014, and the mission was accomplished.

May 7, 2014