Washington, 24 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Ukrainian military aircraft flew homeward last night after an observation flight over the United States.
A U.S. military spokesman said it was the first time an observation aircraft from a former Soviet republic flew an operational mission over America.
The five-day observation mission was a joint U.S.-Ukrainian training flight to prepare for the Open Skies Treaty which promotes openness and transparency in military activities.
The plane, an Antonov An-30 turboprop cargo aircraft, flew close to 6,000 kilometers, photographing military installations in 13 U.S. states.
A group of 15 Ukrainian officers were on board, led by Major General Mykola Honcharenko.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 by 27 NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. It is not yet in force because the Russian and Belarusian legislatures, as well as the Ukrainian Rada, still have to ratify it.