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In Show of Support, US Conducts Ukraine Fly-Over


FILE - A KC-135 aircraft, similar to the one used in the Open Skies fly-Over in Ukraine is seen at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Aug. 26, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis) Source - Defense Logistics Agency

The U.S. and its allies flew a military aircraft over Ukraine Thursday as a show of support after Russia attacked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea last month.

"A U.S. Air Force OC-135 observation plane flew over Ukraine today with U.S., Canadian, German, French, United Kingdom, Romanian and Ukrainian observers aboard," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told VOA.

"The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations," according to a U.S. military statement.

The military added that "Russia's unprovoked attack" on Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait on Nov. 25 is "a dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity."

Pahon said the observation plane left a base near Washington on Nov. 30 and flew in Ukrainian airspace after a stop in Germany.

The Arms Control Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff requested the flight under the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of participating states.

The treaty "promotes openness and transparency in military activities through reciprocal, unarmed observation flights," Pahon said.

The Kerch Strait is the only passage to and from the Black Sea and the inland Sea of Azov, which is jointly controlled by Russia and Ukraine.

Thursday's U.S. military flight comes a day after CNN reported the U.S. Navy is also preparing to sail a ship into the Black Sea in response to Russia's actions against Ukraine.

The Pentagon has reportedly asked the State Department to inform Turkey that it planned to send a warship to the Black Sea.

The United States is required to notify Turkey under a treaty that governs the passage of military vessels from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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