In a “brazen violation of international law,” a Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of a US surveillance drone on Tuesday over the Black Sea, prompting American forces to shoot down the unmanned aircraft, according to the US.
Yet, Russia adamantly denied that its aircraft struck the MQ-9 Reaper drone. Instead, it said that after colliding with Russian fighter jets that had been dispatched to intercept it near Crimea, the drone made a quick manoeuvre and crashed into the water.
It appeared to be the first occasion since the height of the Cold War that an American aircraft was brought down following a run-in with a Russian warplane in the incident, which increased tensions between Russia and the US over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
According to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, national security advisor Jake Sullivan briefed US President Joe Biden about the incident. He continued by saying that representatives of the US State Department would communicate with their Russian colleagues personally and “raise our concerns over this risky and unprofessional intercept.”
Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, described it as a “brazen breach of international law.” He said that the US summoned the Russian ambassador to express its displeasure and that Lynne Tracy, the US ambassador to Russia, had made comparable appeals in Moscow.
A Russian military jet struck the propeller of an American reconnaissance drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, causing its loss in international waters, U.S. officials said. Russia denied that the jet made contact. https://t.co/OAXAEoxe3P pic.twitter.com/7IqQUs4PfH— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 14, 2023
Two Russian Su-27 fighter jets reportedly stopped the drone as it was flying in international airspace, according to the US European Command. According to the report, one of the Russian fighters crashed into the MQ-9’s propeller, which prompted US forces to shoot it down in international waters.
Prior to it, the Su-27s repeatedly flew in front of the MQ-9 while dumping gasoline on it in “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional way,” according to a statement from the US European Command issued from Stuttgart, Germany. In addition to being dangerous and improper, it also showed a lack of skill, it continued.
the US Air Force US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa commander Gen. James B. Hecker, a Russian aircraft “intercepted and hit the MQ-9 while it was conducting routine operations in international airspace, resulting in a crash and full loss of the MQ-9,” according to the statement. In fact, the Russians’ “unsafe and unprofessional behaviour nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” he continued.
The incident took place at 7.03 am Central European time (06.03 GMT; 11.30 am IST) over international waters, far from Ukraine, and after the Russian jets had flown close to the drone for 30 to 40 minutes, according to Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. Ryder continued that there didn’t seem to be any communication between the planes prior to the crash.
MQ-9 Reaper drone.#AFPGraphics diagram of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, used for intelligence, surveillance and attack missions.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 15, 2023
A Russian fighter jet on Tuesday dumped fuel on an American drone over the Black Sea and then collided with it, causing the drone to crash, US military says pic.twitter.com/3jdUmjcvdF
The 20-meter wingspan of the MQ-9 incorporates a ground control station and satellite equipment. It is munitions-capable, although Ryder remained mum on whether it was armed. American Air Forces-Europe stated in a statement that neither the US nor Russia had recovered the wrecked drone. Ryder agreed.
The US has confirmed that the Russian aircraft did land, although Ryder would not specify where. He claimed it looked that it was also damaged in the crash.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the American drone entered a zone that had been declared off-limits by Russia as part of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine while flying over the Black Sea near Crimea, prompting the military to send jets to intercept it.
The MQ-9 drone “fell into unguided flight with a loss of altitude and crashed into the lake” as a result of a “sharp manoeuvre,” it claimed. The Russian aircraft returned to their base without incident after not using their armaments or coming into touch with the unmanned aerial vehicle.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to Washington, called the American drone fly a “provocation” and claimed there was no justification for US warplanes and warships to remain so close to Russia’s borders.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., said his country wants "no confrontation" with the U.S. after a Russian fighter jet collided Tuesday with a large U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea. https://t.co/eahJg24Jay pic.twitter.com/5g4yU4jMjo— The Associated Press (@AP) March 14, 2023
After meeting with Karen Donfried, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Antonov emphasised that no Russian aircraft fired or hit the US drone. He continued by saying Russia wants “pragmatic” relations with the United States.
“We do not desire any conflict between the United States and Russia.”
Moscow has expressed worry about American spy aircraft near the Crimean Peninsula, which it unlawfully annexed in 2014 after annexing it from Ukraine. The US and its allies, according to the Kremlin, have inadvertently entered the fight by arming Ukraine and giving Kiev access to intelligence data.
Kirby made it clear that the incident will not prevent the US from carrying out its role in the region going forward. There is no one country that owns the Black Sea.
Russian pilots had a history of acting in a risky manner when interacting with US and allies’ aircraft over international airspace, notably over the Black Sea, according to the US European Command.
It cautioned that the aggressive activities of the Russian pilots were risky and might result in a mistake or an unintended escalation.
Gen. David Berger, chief of the Marine Corps, said this type of accident is his greatest concern, both in that part of Europe as well as in the Pacific. My main concern there and in the Pacific is probably an aggressive Russian or Chinese pilot or ship commander, or something that comes too close and collides with something else because it is unaware of its surroundings.
At a National Press Club event on Tuesday, Berger responded to a question.
An apartment building in the eastern city of Kramatorsk was attacked by a Russian missile on Tuesday during ongoing combat in Ukraine, killing at least one person and injuring nine others. Kramatorsk is one of the main urban strongholds in the Donetsk area.
The low-rise building, which took the brunt of the hit that damaged two automobiles, a bank branch, a kindergarten, nine apartment buildings, and other structures, was shown in a video broadcast by the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Speaking to employees at a helicopter factory in southern Siberia, Russian President Vladimir Putin once more framed the conflict in Ukraine as one that could end Russia as we know it.
Putin stated, “For us, it’s not a geopolitical issue, it’s the task of ensuring the survival of the Russian statehood and setting up the framework for our nation’s future growth. Chinese peace proposals were welcomed by Russia, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Kiev’s refusal to negotiate leaves Moscow with little choice except to use force.
We must accomplish our objectives, Peskov told the press. The Kyiv regime’s existing position makes it only possible by armed methods at this time. The damaged eastern city of Bakhmut, where Kyiv’s troops have been repelling attacks for seven months and which has evolved into a symbol of resistance and a focal point of the war, has been the target of the Russian assault.
According to the presidential office, Zelenskyy discussed Bakhmut with the military brass, and they all agreed that they would resist the Russian assault.
“To dissuade the enemy, the defensive action in (Bakhmut) is of utmost strategic importance. According to Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, it is essential for the stability of the defence of the entire front line.