Russian Air Force Antonov An-30

A Russian military aircraft is to be welcomed to the UK this week for a number of observation flights.

An Antonov An-30B will fly from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire from Monday to Friday - albeit with RAF personnel on board and following a flight plan pre-approved by the Ministry of Defence and RAF. 

It's under the international Treaty on Open Skies, which is designed to improve understanding and confidence by allowing participating nations to gather information about military forces and areas of concern.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told The Independent:

"This is a completely routine visit which follows a UK over flight of Russia earlier this month. UK military personnel will be on board the Russian aircraft throughout the flight, ensuring compliance with Treaty conditions."

Signed by 34 countries, the Treaty on Open Skies came into force in 2002. 

Sergei Rhzhkov, head of Russia's Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying:

"The observation flight will be performed in a period from May 15 to 19 from the Open Skies airdrome Brize Norton. The maximum range of the flight will be 2,400km."

This comes just over a month after the Ambassador of Russia to the UK said relations between the two countries are at an all-time low.