US Global Hawk Flight Over Donbass Is “The Most Direct Violation of the Minsk Agreements”

Translated by Ollie Richardson


Washington prefers to trust information obtained independently, and not received from Kiev – or so experts evaluate the emergence of the strategic reconnaissance UAV over the contact line in Donbass. The leadership of the DPR consider the flight of the Global Hawk as a violation and a direct threat to the Minsk Agreements. But the subject of interest of the aerial spy was obviously not only Donbass.

The RQ-4A Global Hawk US Air Force strategic UAV on June 16th made an hours-long reconnaissance flight along the line of differentiation in Donbass.

Western websites tracking the movement of the military aircraft reported about it. On these websites even the call sign of this aircraft – UAVGH000 – is mentioned. The Pentagon has not officially commented on the flight of the UAV.

Information can be transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces

“The emergence of an American UAV over the line of differentiation harms the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” stated to the VZ newspaper the envoy of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the negotiations in Minsk, the chairman of the National Council of the DPR Denis Pushilin.

The monitoring and verification of all events in the conflict zone in the Southeast of Ukraine is assigned to the special monitoring mission of the OSCE, stressed Pushilin. “If a flight is carried out by any other organization, mission, and furthermore the reconnaissance of any western country, of course, this is the most direct violation of the Minsk Agreements,” he emphasized.

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If the information is confirmed and it is indeed a “UAV that is able to capture, record, and transmit intelligence information, then it is probable that the information collected by it will go to officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, specified the envoy of the DPR at the Minsk negotiations.

“Therefore we are categorically against the flights of UAVs of any other party over the differentiation zone,” summarized Pushilin.

Route and characteristics of the reconnaissance UAV

It is reported that the Global Hawk took off from Sigonella air base in Sicily, entered the air space of Ukraine over the Nikolaev region, then went towards Mariupol.

The device wasn’t over the territory controlled by the DPR and LPR. But, flying by over the line of differentiation at a height of 16,700 meters, it could survey not only the territories of both People’s Republics, but also the border regions of Russia.

After surveillance, the UAV left the air space of Ukraine and went to the North of Moldova.

The strategic reconnaissance Global Hawk UAV is quite a large device: its length is more than 13 meters, wingspan – about 35 meters, take-off weight – about 15 tons. The UAV can conduct a patrol within 30 hours at a height of up to 18 kilometers. The radar established on the device allows to scan and find moving targets at a radius of 100 kilometers, to observe targets in a detailed mode with a resolution of 1.8 meters on the territory of 10 square kilometers.

The priority is exactly Russian territory

“The Americans, probably, monitor the situation even not in the LDPR, but behind their borders – in the east,” declared to the VZ newspaper the expert of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Andrey Frolov. In his opinion, the priority of the American reconnaissance UAVs is the Russian territory and the troops located on it.

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In particular, it was earlier noted that the West didn’t ignore the formation of a new 8th general army in the Southern Military District (SMD). The army units deployed in the Volgograd and Rostov areas with a HQ in Novocherkassk is responsible for the strategic cover of the southwest direction. In May, 2016, the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu reported, amongst other things, about the formation of an additional unit subordinated to the SMD – in the framework of the general counteraction of the accumulation of NATO at the Russian borders.

In turn, as the military expert Viktor Murakhovsky reminded, the UAV “works” also “in Poland along the borders of the Kaliningrad region”. “Flights are noted over the Black Sea along the borders of the territorial waters of the Russian Federation, near, for example, the Crimean coast. It was noticed in the Baltics too,” specified Murakhovsky to VZ in a conversation with the newspaper.

In reality, the emergence of the Global Hawk on the line of differentiation in Donbass is nothing essentially new. “This is not its first flight in this region. It regularly takes off from the air base in Italy, and it flies along the line of differentiation, at a distance of 40-50 km usually,” stated Murakhovsky to the VZ newspaper.

Frolov noted that Ukraine has no possibility to conduct reconnaissance using strategic UAVs, like the US does. That’s why Washington prefers to rely on information independently obtained, and not received from Kiev. The expert also expressed the assumption that the Americans, most likely, share the received information with Ukrainians.

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How the “American guest” will be greeted in Russia

Frolov is sure that American UAVs won’t begin to fly on Russian territory. “As they say, those sitting in the politburo are not fools,” stressed the interlocutor.

If such a device breaches the borders of the air space of Russia, it will certainly be brought down, said Viktor Murakhovsky. “For our surface-to-air missile systems, even those of average range like “Buk”, for example, not to mention complexes of big range like S-300 and S-400, there are no problems in bringing down such a UAV,” specified the interlocutor.

Murakhovsky also reminded that our aircraft “don’t sleep”. “The Ministry of Defence reports weekly about at least six-eight departures for the escorting of air targets that come near to the Russian borders,” said the expert. “Such an aircraft also doesn’t present any problems for jets like Su-30, Su-35, MiG-31, so to speak, to bring it to its senses, i.e. to make it land,” he added, noting that detecting the UAV is also not a problem, especially taking into account its large proportions.

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