- Alexander Mishin
A Russian surveillance aircraft flew over multiple federal buildings in Washington DC at a low altitude on Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN.
The Russian Air Force plane passed over the US Capitol, Pentagon, Joint Base Andrews, CIA, Camp David, and a secret government bunker called Mount Weather, CNN said.
The flyby, however, was completely legal and in accordance with the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies, which lets countries that are part of the agreement to surveil the other member countries from the air, Politico reported, citing the State Department.
In the last 15 years, the US and Russia have done this a combined 165 times, Politico said.
“The missions happen on a semi-routine basis,” a Pentagon official told Politico. “They usually come in and they list out what locations they want to fly over … We put together the flight plan and with a few exceptions – safety-wise or weather-wise – they are allowed to fly over pretty much the entire territory.”
The Russian plane, a Tupolev Tu-154M, which is akin to civilian airliner, flew at about 3,700 feet and has the ability to take aerial photographs, conduct thermal imaging, and can even gather intelligence signals, CNN said.
The flyby happened as tensions between the US and Russia continue to deteriorate.
The US recently approved another round of sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
The same plane is also scheduled to fly over where Trump is vacationing in Bedminster, NJ between 5 pm and 6 pm, CNN said.