Russian Military Jet Flies Over Pentagon, Capitol Hill and CIA Headquarters
Following President Trump signing U.S. sanctions against the Kremlin into law, a Russian air force jet flew over Washington, D.C. Wednesday, buzzing the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and CIA headquarters. While the reports are surprising, the maneuver was completely legal.
A Russian military spy plane cruised the skies over Washington on Wednesday, with plans for New York City and New Jersey — in a perfectly legal bit of aerial reconnaissance that nonetheless appeared to be an attempt to troll President Donald Trump.
A 1992 agreement known as the Treaty on Open Skies allows each country to conduct surveillance flights over the other’s territory, something the U.S. and Russia have done a combined 165 times over the past 15 years, according to the State Department.
But Russia’s choice of targets this go-round have a decidedly Trumpian flavor, taking the spy plane past Trump’s current hometown of Washington on Wednesday. Its plans in coming days are expected to take it near New York — the home of Trump Tower — and not far from the part of New Jersey where the president is vacationing at his golf club in Bedminster, according to a source familiar with the arrangements.
“I don’t know of any military facilities there,” remarked a Pentagon official, who confirmed the mission.
On Wednesday, the plane also flew at low altitude over Dayton, Ohio, near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, before vanishing from a live flight-tracking website. The plane may have landed there, possibly to refuel.
The Russian air force’s Tupolev Tu-154M — similar to a medium-sized airliner — appeared to have left Moscow early Wednesday and flown through Reykjavík, Iceland, before entering U.S. airspace around Virginia’s Chincoteague Island. The plane then made several passes around the D.C. metro area for about an hour at lunchtime.
Last week, AFP reported 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
The hardline measure is likely in response to Congress voting to slap Russia with new sanctions.
NBC News reports:
The Senate overwhelmingly voted Thursday to impose new sanctions on Russia, joining the House in approving the measure by veto-proof margins.
The vote on the bill — which would also add sanctions against North Korea and Iran — was 98-2, with only Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., dissenting. The House passed the measure on Tuesday by 419-3.
The bill targets Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria, citing corruption, human rights abuses and weapons sales.
The bill next goes to the White House, which hasn’t said whether President Donald Trump is considering vetoing it. The measure also includes a provision that would limit Trump’s authority to lift the sanctions unilaterally.
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci left open the possibility of a veto on Thursday, saying in an interview on CNN’s “New Day”: “He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said: “They can count. They understand math. I just can’t imagine they’re considering doing so.
Following the news Congress would sanction Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the U.S. would face diplomatic consequences for its actions.
New York Daily News:
Russia is ready to strike back at the U.S. government for a bill imposing sanctions over the 2016 election interference, a Kremlin official warned Sunday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said 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 in an ominous interview with ABC News’ “This Week.”
“We will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate.”
Russia already dished out revenge on Friday by expelling some American diplomats and closing down two U.S. facilities.
When asked if the Kremlin had any other plans for punishment — such as sanctions or trade bans — Ryabkov wouldn’t say anything is off limits.
“We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal,” he said.