NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea, the alliance said on Monday.
Flying over Poland and Romania, the AWACS planes, with their distinctive rotating radar dome mounted above the fuselage, should be able to see far into Ukraine airspace.
The alliance’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, recommended the move and NATO ambassadors gave the go-ahead to the AWACS (airborne early warning and control) flights, a NATO spokesman said.
The planes will fly from their home airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and Waddington in Britain, he said.
“These flights will enhance the alliance’s situational awareness and all will take place solely over alliance territory,” he stated.
The flights will start soon, he said, and go on for as long as required.
The Western military alliance announced a review of its cooperation with Moscow last week after Russian forces tightened their grip on Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, following weeks of upheaval in Ukraine which culminated in the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovich.
NATO allies met last Tuesday after Poland invoked a rule allowing any ally to consult with the others if it feels its security is under threat.
Soon after that meeting, US officials said the Pentagon would more than double the number of US fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and increase training with Poland’s air force in an attempt to reassure allies.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-10