Air Force Flies 'Extraordinary' Mission Over Ukraine In Clear Warning To Russia

Nellie Chapman
December 8, 2018

The Boeing OC-135 aircraft flew near Russian Federation in an operation permissible under the Treaty on Open Skies, a programme of unarmed surveillance flights involving 34 countries.

The Ukraine requested the flight under the treaty that is an worldwide accord giving each member country the right to conduct, and the obligation to accept, unarmed military observation flights.

The United States is not discussing the possibility of a military response to the recent naval flare-up in the Kerch Strait, the highest-ranking US military officer said on Thursday.

The November 25 incident off Crimea's Black Sea coast near the Kerch Strait was the latest escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014 when Russian forces seized and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Normally these flights are scheduled well in advance. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss future ship movements.

U.S. ships can only be in the Black Sea for 21 days under the Montreux Convention, the broadcaster said. Officials wouldn't say which ship will make the passage in mid-December. Since then, Washington has sought to show its support for Ukraine while condemning Russian actions.

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The Pentagon said the Ukrainian military had requested the flight, which was on an OC-135 surveillance plane and had observers from the US, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Romania and Ukraine aboard.

"The timing of this flight is meant to reaffirm USA commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations", the Department of Defense said. He said the flight was requested by the arms control directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff.

Poroshenko said he plans to send navy ships in response to Russia's blocking of the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, a key waterway.

Russia's State Duma Deputy Dmytro Belik commented on the claim of Minister of Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak that the Ukrainian Navy would continue using the Kerch Strait, RT reports.

Pahon said the plane had a 17-member crew from the 55th Wing based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

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