Little Known Treaty Lets Russian Military Jets Take Off in America, Collect Recon Data on US Cities


A Russian reconnaissance aircraft will fly over parts of the United States this week as part of the Treaty on Open Skies entered into in the early 1990s.

“The flight will be conducted with [Russia’s] treaty-certified Tu-154 aircraft equipped with electro-optical cameras,” Johnny Michael, a Pentagon spokesman, told Fox News via email.

The Russian new agency TASS reported the flights will be conducted from Aug. 11 – 19 and will be based out of Great Falls, Montana.

“The Russian aircraft will perform its flight along the agreed route. US experts will stay aboard the Tu-154MLK-1 aircraft to control the use of observation equipment,” a statement from Russia’s defense ministry says, according to TASS.

Fox News reported that the Russian observation aircraft can fly anywhere in a 3,000 mile radius from Great Falls, which encompasses the entire continental U.S.

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“The United States has conducted three treaty missions over Russia so far in 2019,” Michael said.

“Per treaty procedures, the United States will inspect the aircraft and U.S. observers will be on board the Russian aircraft to monitor all phases of the observation flight over U.S. territory, to ensure Treaty compliance.”

The U.S. and Italian military conducted an Open Skies observation mission over Russia between July 29 and Aug. 2, according to TASS.

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The flights in Russia originated out of the Kubinka airfield just outside of Moscow.

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in Helsinki, Finland in March 1992 and went into force on Jan. 1, 2002.

There are 34 signatory nations including most of the NATO countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada and Norway.

Sweden, Finland and Ukraine are among other nations which are part of the treaty.

Chicago’s WGN-TV reported the current Russian observation mission flew directly over the Windy City on Tuesday.

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The flight path took it near Naval Station Great Lakes in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

“It’s the Navy’s largest training installation and home to the Navy’s only Boot Camp,” according to WGN-TV.

The news outlet added, “In April, a different Russian spy plane reportedly flew over two of America’s top nuclear laboratories and other strategic sites.”

President Dwight Eisenhower first suggested an “Open Skies” plan in 1955 during a summit in Geneva with representatives from France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

“It called for the United States and the Soviet Union to exchange maps indicating the exact location of every military installation in their respective nations,” according to

“With these maps in hand, each nation would then be allowed to conduct aerial surveillance of the installations in order to assure that the other nations were in compliance with any arms control agreements that might be reached.”

Then-Soviet Secretary General Nikita Khrushchev rejected the idea, saying Eisenhower’s plan was nothing more than an “espionage plot.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith