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By Courtney Kube

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is conducting military surveillance flights over Russia Thursday and Friday as part of the Open Skies Treaty, the first such flights since November 2017.

"The United States is currently conducting an Open Skies Treaty observation flight over Russia," said Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Jamie Davis.

The flights are occurring Thursday and will continue through Friday, departing Russia on Saturday, Feb. 23.

The U.S. is flying an unarmed observation plane, the OC-135B, equipped with cameras. This is one of the aircraft certified under the Open Skies Treaty specifically for these types of flights.

The treaty, which has nearly three dozen nation members, allows member nations to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over another member nation in order to gather information about that nation's military forces.

"Russia is aware of the flight," said Davis. "The appropriate notification was made to all States Parties according to Treaty requirements on Feb. 12, 2019, and confirmed subsequently in accordance with Treaty notifications. In addition, per Treaty procedures, six Russian Federation observers are on board the U.S. aircraft to monitor all phases of the flight."