Americans say Russian fighter jets caused accident with unmanned aircraft. Moscow claims that the object invaded a prohibited area and fell when making a risky maneuver, after being intercepted in mid-flight.
(DW) The United States and Russia are exchanging accusations after an incident in which Russian fighter jets allegedly shot down an American drone on Tuesday (Feb. 14) over the Black Sea in international waters.
This would be the first such incident since the Russian invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. The US military command in Europe claims that two Su-27 fighter jets intercepted an MQ-9 “Reaper” drone and one of them reportedly hit the propellers of the unmanned aircraft.
“Several times prior to the collision, the Su-27s poured fuel and flew in front of the MQ-9,” reported the US military command, which described the incident as a “reckless, environmentally unwise and unprofessional interception.”
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and struck by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a collision and total loss of the MQ-9,” US Air Force General James Hecker, who oversees the US Air Force in the region, said in a statement.
“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
“Violation of international laws”
The U.S. military said the incident followed a pattern of dangerous behavior by Russian pilots operating near U.S. and allied aircraft, including over the Black Sea, located between Europe and Asia and bordering countries that include Russia and Ukraine.
Although the United States has no warships in the Black Sea, the U.S. military routinely conducts surveillance aircraft overflights in the region.
The US considered the incident a “flagrant violation of international law.” President Joe Biden was briefed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, White House spokesman John Kirby reported.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the Russian ambassador in Washington to was summoned to convey to Moscow the U.S. government’s repudiation of the occurrence and that the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Lynne Tracy, submitted a similar representation to the Kremlin.
With Russia’s refusal to admit to downing the drone, a Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department is considering removing the confidentiality of a video recorded during the collision. He said the drone has not yet been recovered, but avoided answering whether there would be a search operation for the wreckage.
Moscow Says Drone Invaded Prohibited Area
Russia’s Defense Ministry provided another version of the incident, stating that the Su-27s neither used weapons nor forced an impact on the American drone.
The ministry claims that the object was in a region close to the Russian border and invaded an area declared off-limits by the Russian authorities.
According to the Russian ministry, fighter jets were sent to intercept the drone, which reportedly fell into the sea on its own after performing a risky maneuver.
After annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Russia declared large areas around the territory as no-fly zones.
Since the annexation of the peninsula that belonged to Ukraine, Moscow had been warning that American spy planes would be flying too close to its borders and ignoring Russian warnings.
The Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said that his country sees the incident as a provocation by the US. He said that his U.S. State Department meeting was “constructive,” and that no possible consequences to Russia were discussed.
“On our part, we do not want any confrontation between the US and Russia. We are in favor of building pragmatic relations for the benefit of the Russian and American peoples,” the ambassador said, as quoted by the state-run RIA news agency,