Pentagon says it flew reconnaissance mission over Ukraine this week

The U.S. Air Force on Monday flew an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft over eastern Ukraine in a reconnaissance mission amid high tensions with Russia. 

Lt. Cmdr. Russ Wolfkiel, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, told CNN it was the first time the aircraft flew over the area.

The Pentagon did not reveal the aircraft’s route or its scouting information, though Wolfkiel told the news network that the U.S. “routinely operates aircraft in the Black Sea region in support of various U.S. and coalition intelligence objectives.”

The mission came only two days after more than 10,000 Russian troops began withdrawing from various regions near Ukraine. 

While the Ukrainian government approved the flight, it reportedly stayed clear of the Donbas region, which is occupied by pro-Russian separatist forces who demand independence from Ukraine. The aircraft, however, can potentially sense movement on both sides of the border without entering conflicted areas. 

The Russian buildup has sparked fears that Moscow would again invade its neighbor after annexing Crimea in 2014, claims Russia has repeatedly denied. 

President Biden held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, warning him that Russia would suffer economic consequences if it chose to invade Ukraine.

Biden will hold another phone call with the Russian leader on Thursday just before larger discussions on the country’s security demands.

    Tags Joe Biden Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict Russo-Ukrainian War Ukraine Ukraine-Russia conflict Vladimir Putin

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