The United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight over Ukraine under the Open Skies Treaty, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.
“The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations. The United States is resolute in our support for the security of European nations”, said the statement.
The U.S. Air Force OC-135B Open Skies observation aircraft which conducted the flight also carried observers from allied nations – Canada, Germany, France, Romania and the UK.
“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 United States seeks a better relationship with Russia, but this cannot happen while its unlawful and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
The Treaty on Open Skies, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. It currently has 34 party states.
The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
The 34 state parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed the treaty but has not yet ratified it.
The Boeing OC-135B Open Skies observation aircraft is used by the U.S. Air Force for Open Skies flights.