According to the US military, a Russian fighter jet damaged the MQ-9 Reaper drone’s propeller on Tuesday, forcing a US Air Force drone to crash into the Black Sea.
Two Russian Su-27 aircraft and the Reaper drone were flying over international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when one of the Russian planes purposefully flew in front of the unmanned drone and repeatedly dropped gasoline on it, according to a statement from US European Command.
The drone’s propeller was then struck by the aircraft, which led US Marines to shoot down the MQ-9 drone in international waters. The Russian aircraft flew “in the neighborhood” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding shortly after 7 a.m. Central European Time on Tuesday, according to a Military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder.
In a statement, Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, head of the US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, claimed that one of his MQ-9 aircraft was engaged in routine operations in international airspace when it was detected and struck by a Russian aircraft. In fact, the Russians’ careless and unprofessional behavior almost resulted in the collision of both aircraft.
Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago, this incident marks the first time that Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact. The US has called Russia’s actions “reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional,” and tensions between the two countries are likely to rise as a result.
After being called to the State Department in response to the downing of the drone, Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, declared that Moscow did not seek “confrontation” between his nation and the US.
We would rather avoid circumstances that might lead to unanticipated conflicts or incidents between the Russian Federation and the United States, Antonov stated.
Antonov, who spent just over 30 minutes inside the State Department, claimed that Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried expressed the US’s worries on the event and that they “exchanged our thoughts on this matter because we have some differences.”
I believe that the discussion on this topic was productive. I’ve heard what she said, and I’m hoping that she got the point,” Antonov said to a query from CNN.
Russia “had notified about this space that was classified as a zone for special military activity,” he added.
He reacted by saying, “We have warned not to enter, not to penetrate,” and he questioned how the US would respond if a Russian drone approached New York or San Francisco.
Antonov reaffirmed a denial of the incident made by the Russian Ministry of Defense. In a statement released earlier on Tuesday, they denied that the Russian jet had come into touch with the drone, claiming that fighter jets “scrambled to identify the invader” after spotting it over the Black Sea and that the drone had “gone into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude.”
The drone violated the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, which was communicated to all users of international airspace and published in accordance with international rules, according to the ministry, by flying with its transponders off.
National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby claims that national security advisor Jake Sullivan briefed President Joseph Biden on the event on Tuesday morning. According to Ryder, representatives of the Defense Department “have not spoken particularly to Russian authorities” about the event.
The US has “engaged at top levels with our allies and partners,” according to Price, to brief them on the situation. The US “is not in a position to comment to what the Russians meant to accomplish,” he continued, but in the end, “what actually transpired” was more important.
Russian planes intercepting US planes over the Black Sea, according to Kirby, is “not uncommon” and there have been several intercepts in recent weeks.
The “unsafe, unprofessional, and irresponsible” nature of the Russian actions, he claimed, made the incident on Tuesday special.
The US Defense Department is presently attempting to declassify imagery from the event, Ryder said Tuesday. Also, he said that Russia had not found the crashed drone.
On Tuesday’s episode of “The Lead,” Kirby stated in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that the US has “taken steps to protect our interests with respect to that specific drone.”
Of course, we don’t want anyone else to get their hands on it, Kirby said. He said that the US denies Russia’s denial of responsibility, stating that Americans “should take anything that the Russians say about what they’re doing in and around Ukraine with a large grain of salt.”
Russian and US planes have operated over the Black Sea during the duration of the Ukrainian war, but this is the first recorded such encounter, a potentially deadly escalation at a critical time in the struggle.
Even before the start of the war, the US has been flying Reaper spy drones over the Black Sea to keep an eye on the region. Reaper drones are an excellent platform for tracking movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea because they can fly as high as 50,000 feet, have sensors, and are capable of performing reconnaissance for extended periods of time.