A Russian military plane was spotted flying over Washington D.C. on Wednesday with plans to head to New York City and New Jersey. Though the move was completely legal, it was also a clear attempt to send a message to President Donald Trump.
Politico reported that a 1992 agreement known as the Treaty on Open Skies allows the U.S. and Russia to conduct surveillance flights over the other’s territory, and the two nations have done this a combined 165 times in the last 15 years. However, Russia’s choice of targets today is obviously a shot at Trump, as they first flew over his current residence in Washington D.C. before heading to his home state of New York. The Russian jet is then scheduled to fly not far from the part of New Jersey where the president is vacationing at his golf club in Bedminster.
“I don’t know of any military facilities there,” remarked a Pentagon official.
At one point, the Russian aircraft flew at low altitude over Dayton, Ohio, near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, before vanishing from a live flight-tracking website. It’s been speculated that the plane may have landed there to refuel. The Russian air force’s Tupolev Tu-154M left Moscow early on Wednesday and flew through Reykjavík, Iceland, before entering U.S. airspace around Virginia’s Chincoteague Island.
This came a week after Russian President Putin ordered hundreds of U.S. diplomats to leave the country.
#BREAKING 755 US diplomats must leave Russia, President Putin announces
— AFP news agency (@AFP) July 30, 2017
Last Thursday, the Senate voted to impose new sanctions on Russia, joining the House in approving the measure by veto-proof margins. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov fired back by saying that the U.S. will face a “long, long overdue” retaliation after Congress approved the bill last week.
“If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer,” he said. “We will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate.”
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