The Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft made the flight through the Treaty on Open Skies، which Russia، the United States and 32 other nations have signed.
As part of the Treaty on Open Skies, an worldwide program aimed at transparency between allies, a Russian plane scanned much of Washington D.C., including the White House, Capitol, and Pentagon, yesterday, alongside American representatives. "Open Skies enhances confidence building and transparency by allowing the 34 countries that are parties to the treaty to conduct unarmed observation flights and verify compliance with arms control agreements".
"The missions happen on a semi-routine basis", a Pentagon official told Politico.
The recent flight is scheduled to be followed by another one over US President Donald Trump's property in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is now vacationing.
Russian Open Skies flights in the U.S. are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration and carry U.S. Air Force personnel who serve as escorts.
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According to the Open Skies Treaty, visiting aircraft are allowed to use specific wet film equipment or digital sensors to take aerial surveillance photos that are later shared with the host nation. These missions are highly controlled, typically involving representatives of the country being observed participating in the mission.
But the flight took on special significance Wednesday both because of the audacious flight plan selected by the Russians and because of the flurry of investigations over Russian election interference.
The flight flew over the US Capitol, the Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency and the presidential retreat at Camp David. In June 2016, the USA allowed a Russian jet with the technology to fly over the U.S.
The treaty, for instance, obligates each member to make all of its territory available for observation, yet officials said Russia has imposed restrictions on surveillance over Moscow and Chechnya and near Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions of Georgia now under Russian control.