Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

USA conducts 'extraordinary' observation flight to reaffirm commitment to Ukraine

USA conducts 'extraordinary' observation flight to reaffirm commitment to Ukraine

'The timing of this flight is meant to reaffirm US commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations, ' the Pentagon said.

This was the first "extraordinary" flight under the Open Skies Treaty since 2014, the Pentagon said.

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 Open Skies Treaty permits each of the 34 state parties the right to gather information about the military forces and activities of other state parties, but an extraordinary flight allows countries to conduct the flights on a bilateral basis.

Russian ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova told Russian news agencies on Friday that she visited three Ukrainian seamen who were injured in the incident and are being held in a Moscow prison hospital.

Typically all 34 parties to Open Skies, including Russian Federation, would have to approve a reconnaissance mission as part of a package of flights.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands on board a coast guard ship in the Sea of Azov port of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

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A total of 25 US military personnel - eight Defense Threat Reduction Agency personnel and a 17-person aircrew from the 55th Wing out of Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska - participated in Thursday's flight.

Ukrainian boats had attempted a provocation in the Sea of Azov a month before the Kerch Strait incident, according to a senior Russian naval official.

An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft takes flight on August 13, 2015, at Offutt AFB, Neb.

The USS McCampbell sailed near the Peter the Great Bay to "challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims" in what is known under global norms as a "freedom of navigation operation".

The US military has requested the State Department to notify Turkey of possible plans to sail a warship into the Black Sea, CNN reported.

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.

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