NATO has given a green light to deploy AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) flights over Poland and Romania.
The BBC quoted NATO officials saying the “reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory” in response to a planned Crimea referendum to join Russia, a move governments in Europe and the United States have declared illegal. NATO added the flights will “enhance the alliance’s situational awareness” of events in Ukraine and Crimea.
The AWACS are based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and Waddington in the United Kingdom.
AWACS operate as an airborne radar “picket” system to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges for targeting purposes. In Europe, NATO uses AWAC in a similar fashion as the US Navy uses a Command Information Center on a warship. The system allows operators to track targets and engage in battle management.
NATO has not specified what in particular it is monitoring and possibly targeting in Ukraine. In recent days, Crimea has organized self-defense units in the autonomous republic “in order to respond to possible provocations from the coup-imposed government in Kiev,” according to InSerbia.info, a nonprofit news organization.
Aleksandr Bochkarev, head of the Crimean self-defense forces, told RIA-Novosti on Monday Crimea is organizing its own military force. “We’re shaping up our own armed forces now,” he said.
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