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Russia says Black Sea incident involving fighter jet and US drone a ‘provocation’

‘The Black Sea belongs to no one nation’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 15 March 2023 08:07 GMT
US says Russian jet forced its surveillance drone to crash

Russia believes that the incident over the Black Sea between its fighter jet and a US drone was “deliberate” and a “provocation”.

Russia’s ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in remarks that were published on the embassy’s website on Wednesday that “the American UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] deliberately and provocatively was moving towards Russian territory with transponders turned off”.

“We view this incident as a provocation,” Mr Antonov told Russian agencies on Tuesday after being summoned by the US State Department.

US Air Force general James B Hecker of the branch’s Europe command said a pair of Russian Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft performed a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional” set of manoeuvres, dumping fuel and damaging the propeller of an MQ-9 drone, forcing the US to bring the craft down.

“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” he added.

The European command warned that “these aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation”. The US European Command said in a statement that one of the Russian fighters “struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing US forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters”.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defence Ministry said the US drone was flying near its borders and intruded into the area that was declared off-limits by Russia, causing the military to scramble fighters to intercept it.

“As a result of sharp manoeuvre, the US drone went into uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude,” and fell into the water, it said.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called it a “brazen violation of international law” and said the US summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a protest. The US ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy has made similar representations in Moscow.

“If the message is that they want to deter or dissuade us from flying, and operating in international airspace, over the Black Sea, then that message will fail,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.

“We’re going to continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters,” he said. “The Black Sea belongs to no one nation.”

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