Delegation led by USAFE commander on tour of Russia
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe is in Russia this week for the first time in recent history with the aim of boosting relations and security cooperation.
Gen. Tom Hobbins, the Air Force’s top officer in Europe, arrived in Moscow on Monday, said Capt. Elizabeth Culbertson, a spokeswoman at the command’s headquarters in Ramstein.
During the four-day trip, Hobbins and other members of the American delegation plan to visit the U.S. Embassy in the capital, a combat and training air base, and a World War II monument.
Air Force officials said they could not recall the last time the USAFE commander made an official visit to Russia.
“The purpose is relationship-building, as well as to enhance security cooperation between our two Air Forces,” the Air Force said in a statement about the trip.
The group first traveled to the embassy to get a briefing on the state of U.S.-Russian relations.
On Tuesday, the delegation visited Lipetsk Air Base — which is about 315 miles south of Moscow — where Hobbins received a base tour. He also flew in a SU-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft on Tuesday with Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, deputy commander in chief of the Russian Federation Air Force and Gen. Maj Aleksandr Kharchevskiy, chief of the 4th Center for Combat Use and Flight Training at Lipetsk.
Hobbins commented on how “meticulously maintained” the Russian fighters are and how grateful he was to the Russian Federation Air Force for giving him the demonstration flight, according to Culbertson.
“I am looking forward to our Air Forces working together more,” Hobbins said after the flight.
Hobbins and the delegation also will tour Moscow’s Victory Park, a monument dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The site opened in 1995 to mark the victory’s 50th anniversary.