Yesterday’s daily OSCE report proved a little more interesting than usual.
On events for Feb 15th, they reported seeing a plane flying over Russian occupied Ukraine. There “hand held imagery,” which is probably film footage, described the plane as likely to be either a Russian made – Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142. Wikipedia
The Tupolev Tu-142 is a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The Tu-95 turboprop is a strategic bomber. These are old planes. One can surmise Russia’s sent an older plane into Ukraine to first test the water. If it got shot down, no great loss. If not shot down as in the case here, it’s a propaganda victory. With the large, slow moving plane having flown during the day, it was hardly going to be missed.
The OSCE report.
The Tupolev TU-142.
The OSCE monitors were “positioned in an area north-west of Liubivka village (formerly Leninske), which is 43km south-east of Donetsk. From east of their position (towards Russia), they saw the plane flying north to south and back again. The small town of Starobesheve is 10km from Liubivka.
Liubivka is 17km from the Russian border, so well inside Ukraine. The OSCE report makes it clear the plane had flown in “none-government controlled” Ukrainian airspace. Although this is a troubling incident which may herald yet more Russian planes flying into Ukraine, for me it’s more a case of typical Kremlin sabre-rattling. A show of force designed to say Russia can do what the hell it likes. There’s always the theory that if Ukraine had shot it down, Russia may have used this as an excuse for further military action against Ukraine. Although it’s an easy call to to say Ukraine should have shot it down, the unpredictable ramifications for having done so could be serious. Especially so if the plane had crashed inside Russia.
I’m sure if challenged on why a Russian military plane was flying in Ukraine, the Kremlin will claim pilot error and like the numerous Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine, they’ll say the aircraft simply got lost.
Liubivka village. Note Donetsk city above it.
Positions of Liubivka and Starobesheve. The yellow line marks the Russian border.
Below is the Feb 19th 2019 Situation Map.
Posted by the Ukrainian military, it shows the occupied territory as the beige colour on the right. The thick red line marks the 409km of Ukraine’s border and Ukrainian border crossings under the total control of Russia. I’ve underlined Donetsk city Донецьк in red.