On the road in the service of NATO: An RC-135 jet of the British Air Force made its rounds over Moldova. (Symbolic image) © IMAGO / ZUMA Press
A NATO plane appears on the border of Moldova with Ukraine and makes its circles. This leaves room for speculation. And could startle Russia.
Chisinau – Vladimir Putin and his henchmen will take a closer look at Moldova this day. On the one hand, because of the summit meeting of the new European Political Community (UPC), at which the heads of state and government will also discuss how to deal with Russia in the face of the Ukraine war. On the other hand, they will also have registered what is happening in the airspace over Ukraine's small neighboring state.
On Thursday afternoon, an RC-135 jet of the British Royal Air Force was flying there, as reported by the Kiev Post and the military website The War Zone, citing data from the online service Flightradar24. The machine of the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has far-reaching espionage tools.
Thanks to its radar system and sensors, it can accurately identify targets in the air and on the ground over hundreds of kilometers. It is also capable of accessing foreign communications, decrypting codes and intercepting digital data. The suspicion is that the reconnaissance aircraft was on a NATO mission.
NATO spy plane flying over Moldova: support for Ukrainian forces?
As The War Zone lists, the plane took off from the British air base Waddington. He then crossed the English Channel, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland to Slovakia, from where he continued via Hungary and Romania to the Republic of Moldova. Their capital Chisinau was located in the center of the route along the border, which was then flown again and again.
According to the Kiev Post, NATO reconnaissance aircraft have been on the road every day since the beginning of the Russian invasion, but only over Romania and the eastern border of Poland – i.e. in the airspace of members of the transatlantic alliance. The planes help the Ukrainian armed forces to locate enemy military vehicles, aircraft and air defense systems.
Now there is speculation that Thursday's mission could also apply to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions occupied by the invaders. Because it is expected that Kiev wants to recapture these regions in the course of the counteroffensive.
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Officially, the Royal Air Force was responsible for the security precautions. After all, Moldova has also feared for months that it will be drawn into the war ordered by Putin. Especially since in the region of Transnistria in the far east, which broke away from the rest of the country with Russian support in the 1990s, a low four-digit number of armed forces from Moscow are officially stationed as "peacekeepers" and paramilitary groups there are also supporting Putin.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and has already felt the effects of the Ukraine war. So, at the end of last year, a rocket landed on the territory. As early as October, parts of a Russian missile knocked out by the Ukrainian air defense system are said to have fallen over the country.
Also in action: An AWACS of the US Air Force also appears to have taken part in the NATO mission. (Symbolic image) © IMAGO / NurPhoto
Aerial reconnaissance by NATO: Apparently second RC-135 and AWACS on the way over Romania
Since last year, however, Moldova has also been a candidate for EU membership. Chisinau made the request shortly after the start of the war. Support is already coming from the partners. Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, for example, tweeted photos of transport planes and wrote that the country was sending a "huge shipment" of weapons, ammunition and equipment to the Moldovan police. These would be launched by two C-130 Hercules of the Polish Air Force and four C-295 transport aircraft.
However, it is also interesting with regard to NATO aerial reconnaissance that another RC-135 – this time of the US Air Force – is said to have been flying over Romania on Thursday and taken a parallel route to the British aircraft. In addition, an AWACS of the U.S. Air Force, which was also used for aerial reconnaissance, circled over the Romanian Danube Delta region. Reference is also made to a Slovak Gripen fighter jet that was in the sky in the east of this country at the time, as well as an unidentified military aircraft circling along the Romanian-Moldovan border.
In June, NATO planes will also spread in German airspace with an announcement. As part of the mission "Air Defender 23". This is the largest exercise in the history of the Alliance. This will also have an impact on travel from 12 to 23 June. (mg)