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US military conducts observation flight over Russia

In this image from the US Air Force, an OC-135 Open Skies aircraft prepares to take off on September 14, 2018, from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska: the US military is conducting a surveillance flight over Russia as part of an international agreement
In this image from the US Air Force, an OC-135 Open Skies aircraft prepares to take off on September 14, 2018, from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska: the US military is conducting a surveillance flight over Russia as part of an international agreement US AIR FORCE/AFP
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Washington (AFP)

The US military is conducting a surveillance flight over Russia as part of an international agreement, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The flight falls under the Open Skies Treaty, an international accord aimed at promoting military transparency through reciprocal, unarmed observation flights over each of the 34 signatory countries' terrains.

Due to tensions with Russia, this is the first Open Skies flight there since November 2017, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis said.

"Russia is aware of the flight," he said.

"Six Russian Federation observers are on board the US aircraft to monitor all phases of the flight."

The flight, which is due to end Friday, is being conducted with an unarmed OC-135B aircraft.

In December, the US and other nations conducted an "extraordinary" Open Skies flight over Ukraine in a mission to show support for Kiev following Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Sea of Azov.

The Open Skies Treaty has 34 national members and gives countries "the right to gather information about the military forces and activities of other" signatory countries, the Pentagon said.

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