Russian Surveillance Plane Flies Over Washington

Saul Bowman
August 12, 2017

The flights are entirely legal and sanctioned in advance by the USA under the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows 34 member nations to conduct unarmed overflights over each others' territory.

As part of the Treaty on Open Skies, an worldwide program aimed at transparency between allies, a Russian plane scanned much of Washington D.C., including the White House, Capitol, and Pentagon, yesterday, alongside American representatives.

Russian Federation and the United States have conducted similar flights over each other's territory 165 times over the past 15 years.

According to the ministry's data, 12 foreign aircraft conducted air surveillance near the Russian borders in the reported period.

An unarmed Russian air force reconnaissance jet flew over several government buildings and landmarks in the nation's capital Wednesday - including the Pentagon, the Capitol, the National Mall and the White House - ABC News has confirmed.

"The missions happen on a semi-routine basis", a Pentagon official told Politico. The Russian jet was not subject to that flight ban.

USA military personnel were allowed on the plane for observation and the plane has the capability of gathering intelligence, one person familiar with the flight told CNN.

The same plane is also scheduled to fly over where Trump is vacationing in Bedminster, NJ between 5 pm and 6 pm, CNN said. The treaty aims to promote transparency about military activities.

But the U.S. Capitol Police issued an advisory ahead of time, saying an "authorized low-altitude aircraft" would enter restricted airspace over the Capitol between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 9. "This flight will be monitored by the U.S. Capitol Police Command Center and other federal government agencies".

The US Capitol, the Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency and the presidential retreat at Camp David were among the sites that the aircraft reportedly flew over. These missions are highly controlled, typically involving representatives of the country being observed participating in the mission.

He said the Russians had satellites they could use if they wanted to spy on British installations. The treaty established criteria under which countries can make unarmed observation flights over the soil of other treaty members in an effort to promote transparency and global arms control efforts، according to the State Department.

The entire territory of a nation is fair game, although nations get advanced notice of flight plans.

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