In Show of Support, US Conducts Ukraine Fly-Over

The Ukrainian command ship Donbass is seen moored as workers build new terminal at the Port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea eastern Ukraine on Dec. 2 2018

The flight, requested by the Arms Control Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff, is the latest USA response to Russia's military activity across the world.

The United States has begun making preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions, CNN has reported. Such flights occur outside the schedule of normal, planned operations when unusual situations arise.

But under the agreement, which entered into force in 2002, two countries can bilaterally decide to carry out an "extraordinary flight" without such a deal.

On Tuesday, a senior U.S. State Department official warned that Moscow must release the Ukrainian sailors or face growing consequences.

United States ships can only be in the Black Sea for 21 days under the Montreux Convention, the broadcaster said.

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In a statement on Thursday, Russia's defense ministry mocked the passage, claiming the ship never entered waters claimed by Russia and expressing "puzzlement at the rhetorical feat of the representatives of the U.S. Navy".

"Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is a unsafe escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity", Pahon added.

Last month, the Russian coast guard opened fire on three Ukrainian vessels attempting to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea near the annexed peninsula of Crimea. Since then, Washington has sought to show its support for Ukraine while condemning Russian actions. The timing of this flight is meant to reaffirm USA commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations.‎ The United States is resolute in our support for the security of European nations.

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. He said the flight was requested by the arms control directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff.

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

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