The U.S. military conducted an "extraordinary flight" over Ukraine Thursday to "reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations" amid escalating tensions triggered by "provocative and threatening" Russian behavior, the Department of Defense said in a statement.
A U.S. Air Force OC-135B observation aircraft flew over Ukraine with U.S., Canadian, German, French, United Kingdom, Romanian and Ukrainian observers on board, the Pentagon told Business Insider in an emailed statement. The observation flight was requested under the Open Skies Treaty by the Arms Control Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff.
"The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations," the Department of Defense said. "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 statement refers to the recent clash between Russian ships and Ukrainian naval vessels in the Sea of Azov. The Russian vessels rammed and fired upon three Ukrainian ships before capturing the ships and their crews.
The Open Skies Treaty allows signatory states to gather information about the military activities of other member countries. While normal Open Skies Treaty observation flights ought to be approved by all member states, including Russia, extraordinary flights can be conducted on a bilateral basis, CNN reported.
A total of 25 U.S. 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.
An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft takes flight on Aug. 13, 2015, at Offutt AFB, Neb. The Open Skies is an observation aircraft used for treaty support enhancing global peace, stability and cooperative security.U.S. Air Force/Josh Plueger
The flight comes on the heels of an unusual U.S. Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay. The guided-missile destroyer USS McCambell conducted the operation, the first in this area since the Cold War, Wednesday, challenging Russia near the headquarters of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet.
The U.S. is also making preparations to send a warship into the Black Sea, CNN reported Wednesday. "Our U.S. 6th Fleet is always prepared to respond where called," Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for 6th Fleet, told reporters.
"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 Pentagon said in a statement Thursday.
An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle that made an emergency landing on Wednesday ditched its entire arsenal of live air-to-air missiles before touching down at Portland International Airport, The War Zone reports.
President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.
The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.
"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.