Lee Heidhues 3.14.2023
Today’s ongoing USA-Russia ‘Spy v. Spy’ drama.
Why a Russian fighter aircraft would strike an unmanned American drone over the Black Sea raises a lot of questions. Perhaps the Russians believe the drone was conducting surveillance of Russian operations in Ukraine.
Whatever the reason the incident only serves to ratchet up already tense relations between Washington and Moscow.
Deutsche Welle 3.14.2023
The US said it summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday, after a Russian fighter jet forced down a US military “Reaper” surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
The US said that a Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of the surveillance drone in “brazen violation of international law.”
Ned Price, the spokesman for the State Department, said, “We are summoning the Russian ambassador to the State Department.”
Moscow said the American drone sharply maneuvered and crashed after an encounter with Russian jets near Crimea, but insisted that Russian fighter jets didn’t fire weapons or hit the drone.
The Russian Defense Ministry said their fighters from air defense forces on duty were in the air to identify the “intruder” over the Black Sea.
The Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, described the US drone flight as a “provocation,” saying there was no reason for US military aircraft and warships to be near Russia’s borders.
Speaking after meeting US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Karen Donfried, Antonov added that Moscow wants “pragmatic” ties with Washington and “don’t want any confrontation between the US and Russia.”
US Air Force General James Hecker, who oversees the US Air Force in the region, said in a statement, “Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9.”
The US military added the incident followed a pattern of dangerous behavior by Russian pilots operating near aircraft flown by the US and its allies, including over the Black Sea.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters they don’t “need to have some sort of check-in with the Russians before we fly in international airspace. There’s no requirement to do that nor do we do it.”
The Black Sea lies between Europe and Asia and is bordered by Russia and Ukraine, among other countries.
Channel News Asia 3.14.2023
The Russian fighter jet on Tuesday (Mar 14) dumped fuel on the American drone over the Black Sea and then collided with it, causing the drone to crash, the US military said, slamming the manoeuvre as “reckless”.
US European Command said two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper over international waters and one clipped its propeller.
“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” it said.
Moscow denied causing the crash of the drone, which the Pentagon said was on a routine ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) mission.
“As a result of a sharp manoeuvre … the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle entered an uncontrolled flight with loss of altitude and collided with the surface of the water,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that the two Russian jets had no contact with the US aircraft and did not use their weapons.
“We are engaging directly with the Russians, again at senior levels, to convey our strong objections to this unsafe, unprofessional intercept, which caused the downing of the unmanned US aircraft,” spokesman Ned Price told reporters.