Russia Wants to Fly Spy Planes Over the U.S. and the Pentagon Can’t Stop It

In this March 27, 2008, file photo, the Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
In this March 27, 2008, file photo, the Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Russia filed a request Monday to fly a spy plane carrying advanced digital cameras over the United States.

The move presents the United States with a dilemma: How does Washington respond at a time when Moscow and Washington are at odds over Syria and Ukraine and senior US defense officials have identified Russia as the No. 1 existential threat to America?

It would be complicated for the United States to block Russia’s request.

Both countries are required to do so as members of the Treaty on Open Skies, which was first approved in 1992 and went into effect in 2002.

It allow signatories to fly unarmed aircraft carrying video and still cameras, infrared scanning devices and certain forms of radar over the territory of other treaty members. Inspections are carried out to make sure the cameras used meet the terms of treaty and are not too powerful.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that the treaty, which was ratified by the Senate, helps prevent any misinterpretation of military action that could lead to armed conflict.

“We have to remember that while we have pretty good intelligence on a lot of the world, a lot of other countries don’t necessarily have that great of intelligence on us,” Davis said.

“So, in the interest of transparency and [avoiding] miscalculation on their part, sometimes it’s worthwhile to allow them to have a look at what you’re doing or what you’re not doing.”

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SOURCE: Business Insider; The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe