Russia blocks U.S. surveillance of troop movements near Ukraine

Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon

The Russian government this week canceled a planned U.S. surveillance flight over Russian territory in a bid to limit spying on massed troops facing off against Ukraine and Eastern Europe, according to U.S. officials.

An F16 taking off from a Romanian air base / AP
An F16 taking off from a Romanian air base / AP

The overflight mission was scheduled for April 14 to April 16 under the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, but Russia’s government notified the State Department 72 hours before the scheduled flight that it would not be permitted.

The cancelation is unusual because the sole reason for putting off such treaty-approve surveillance is flight safety, such as bad weather. … Until this week, the overflights had been providing close up aerial observation of Russian military deployments near Ukraine and near NATO allies in Eastern Europe where concerns are increasing about Russian military aggression.

U.S. intelligence agencies are continuing to closely monitor Russian troop movements using imagery satellites. The Pentagon has said the tens of thousands of Russian troops, along with tanks and armored vehicles, have been “staging” in recent weeks in apparent preparation for military action.


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