U.S. Air Force sends ‘extraordinary’ flight over Ukraine in a show of solidarity and as a warning to Russia after naval confrontation between the two countries
- The Ukraine requested an observatory flight with the US and other countries
- The Pentagon called it an ‘extraordinary’ flight under the Open Skies Treaty
- The flight was in part for the US to reaffirm its commitment to the country after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels
- The treaty is an international accord giving each member country the right to conduct, and the obligation to accept, unarmed military observation flights
- The Pentagon said while the US is working on relationships with Russia it does not condone its attack on Ukraine naval ships in Novemeber
- The Pentagon added Russia’s ‘unlawful and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere’ and can not continue to happen
An unarmed U.S. Air Force plane with American and international observers flew a special flight over Ukraine Thursday in a show of solidarity after Russia’s Ukraine naval confrontation last month.
In a statement, the Pentagon called it an ‘extraordinary’ flight under the Open Skies Treaty to reaffirm its commitment to the country after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off Crimea.
The Ukraine requested the flight under the treaty that is an international accord giving each member country the right to conduct, and the obligation to accept, unarmed military observation flights.
‘Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is a dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity,’ the Pentagon said in a statement.
OC-135 observation aircraft (pictured) with U.S., Canadian, German, French, British, Romanian and Ukrainian observers aboard did an ‘extraordinary’ observation mission over the Ukraine following Russia’s attack on three Ukrainian ships in Crimea
A view of the Nikopol and Berdyansk artillery boats detained by the Russian Federal Security Service in the Kerch Strait incident for violation of the Russian border along with another ship of the Ukrainian Navy on November 25
‘The United States seeks a better relationship with Russia, but this cannot happen while its unlawful and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere.’
The purpose of the flight is in part to promote transparency in military activities.
Normally these flights are arranged well in advance. But the treaty also permits ‘extraordinary,’ or extra, flights if two participating members agree.
In this case, the Ukrainian military requested a flight and the U.S. agreed to conduct it over an uncontested portion of Ukraine territory, according to Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.
Pahon said this was the first ‘extraordinary’ Open Skies flight since 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
On November 25, Russia and Ukraine had a naval clash near Kerch Strait. Since then, Washington has sought to show its support for Ukraine while condemning Russian actions.
‘The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations,’ the Pentagon said.
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On November 25, Russia and Ukraine had a naval clash near Kerch Strait. Since then, Washington has sought to show its support for Ukraine
Pahon said the plane that was flown over Ukraine on Thursday was an OC-135 observation aircraft with U.S., Canadian, German, French, British, Romanian and Ukrainian observers aboard.
He said the flight was requested by the arms control directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff.
Pahon said the plane had 17-member crew from the 55th Wing based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
It flew from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Ramstein air base in Germany on November 30 and flew over Ukraine on Thursday, he said.
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