A soldier, believed to be Russian, rides on a military
armoured personnel carrier on a road near the Crimean port
city of Sevastopol. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and
Romania to monitor the situation in neighbouring Ukraine where
Russian forces have taken control of Crimea, the alliance says.
Ukraine is not a NATO member but Russia's intervention in
Crimea has alarmed neighbouring countries, including alliance
members that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union.
Acting on a recommendation from the alliance's top military
commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO
ambassadors gave the go-ahead to the AWACS flights, a NATO
AWACS (airborne early warning and control) planes will fly
from their home airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and
Waddington in Britain, the spokesman said.
"These flights will enhance the alliance's situational
awareness and all will take place solely over alliance
territory," he said.
The flights will start soon and go on for as long as
required, he added.
The Western military alliance announced a review of its
cooperation with Moscow last week after Russian forces
tightened their grip on Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea
Fleet, following weeks of upheaval in Ukraine which
culminated in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich.
NATO allies met last Tuesday after Poland invoked a rule
allowing any ally to consult with the others if it feels its
security is under threat.
Soon after that meeting, U.S. officials said the Pentagon
would more than double the number of U.S. fighter jets on a
NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and do more training
with Poland's air force in an attempt to reassure allies.