Russia opposes US reconnaissance flights over the Black Sea, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation told The New York Times.
Putin mentioned some examples of Cold War inertia, noting that the United States had informed Russia about its intention to start flying reconnaissance missions over the Black Sea. The need to fight terrorism was mentioned as a reason for such flights and their route, which was to have passed over Georgian areas that border on Russia, Putin noted.
In his words, the Russian Foreign Ministry has noted that it perceives no need for this, and that such flights have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism.
One shouldn't be a military expert to understand that it's impossible to combat terrorism with the help of reconnaissance planes flying at an altitude of 8,000-10,000 meters; this is complete nonsense, the Russian head of state added.
Technically speaking, the United States doesn't have to inform us about this, Putin went on to say. If The United States wants to fly over our southern territory all the way to the Volga region, then we can't forbid this, despite the fact that we don't like this very much. But why explain such flights by complete rubbish? If we are partners, then we believe that this is absolutely groundless, Putin noted.
Moreover, Putin drew attention to the fact that the afore-said reconnaissance flights had begun during the rather heated discussion of the Iraqi problem and prior to hostilities.
The US National Security Council was informed about this; we had the impression that the President of the United States was informed, as well; and the flights stopped, Putin said in conclusion.