That’s right- a Russian jet like this one, with high definition cameras, is overflying the northern end of Upstate New York today. Its reconnaisance mission is perfectly legal. In fact, it’s encouraged as a mutual show of trust.
Under the Treaty on Open Skies, first proposed during the Cold War to boost confidence in the arms control process, member countries can fly unarmed observation aircraft over any other signatory’s country given 72h notice. Twenty-six countries ratified the measure in 2002, including Canada, Russia and the United States.
So the kind of spying from the sky that used to be considered an act of war is now just a curious little military ritual. If you look skyward and smile today, any one of dozens of satellites is much more likely to snap your picture- in much greater detail- than any camera on an airplane.