After a tit-for-tat series of delays, the United States conducted an Open Skies Treaty intelligence flight over Russian territory on Monday, a State Department official said.
The spy flight originally was scheduled for April 14 but was canceled by Russia after a U.S. team for the flight failed to arrive near Moscow on time and Moscow refused temporarily to reschedule it.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman also expressed anger on Monday over U.S. delays in certifying a new high-tech Russian aircraft to be used for spying missions over the United States under the Open Skies Treaty that permits limited legal spying over U.S. and Russian territory.
The State Department official said, however, that last week’s delay was the result of bad weather – despite radar images showing mostly clear skies over of Russia during the period of last week’s planned flight.
“The U.S. Open Skies mission dated April 14 was delayed due to weather conditions beyond the time permitted by the treaty,” the official said in a statement. “The flight was rescheduled and on April 21, the U.S. Open Skies Treaty aircraft began its mission in the Russian Federation.”