The Secretary of DefenseLloyd Austin IIIsaid Wednesday that the United States would continue conducting surveillance flights after a Russian warplane reached and shot down a US reconnaissance drone over the Black Sea.
“Make no mistake: The United States will continue to fly and operate where international law permits,” Austin said at the start of a virtual gathering of some 50 nations supporting Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia.
“This dangerous incident is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace,” Austin said.
“It is up to Russia to operate its military aircraft safe and professional way.
The incident, the first known physical contact between the Russian and US militaries since the start of the war in Ukraine, has raised tensions between the superpowers, although there were signs on Wednesday that both nations were trying to contain the fallout.
The United States and Ukraine have claimed that the drone MQ-9 Reapersunarmed, he was flying in international airspace on a routine surveillance and reconnaissance mission.
US and Ukrainian officials said they shared information obtained in these types of missions, especially in relation to the threat placed by Russian warships and submarines in the Black Sea.
The Pentagon accused Moscow of recklessness, saying Russian jets dumped fuel on the US drone on Tuesday before one of them cut off the drone’s prop and prompted its US operators to shoot it down over the Black Sea, southwest of the peninsula of Russian-occupied Crimea.
Ukrainian officials said the drone crashed in the waters southeast of Snake Island, about 30 miles off the Ukrainian coast.
Russia has denied its plane hit the drone and has demanded the end of military flights The Americans near their territory.
“I want to emphasize that the Russian fighters did not use air weapons, they didn’t make contact with the drone and returned safely to their base airfield,” Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said the drone was flying “in the direction” of the Russian border and that fighter planes had been sent “to identify the intruder”.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, said on Wednesday that Russia was trying to recover the remains. John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said that due to the depth of the water the drone fell into, “I’m not sure we’ll be able to recover it.”
“We’re still evaluating whether there might be some type of recovery effort mounted. There might not be,” Kirby told CNN.
The Pentagon said the incident was an example of Russian incompetence.
US officials said they did not believe the Russians had intended to cut off the drone’s propeller with their aircraft, a risky move that also put the Russian aircraft in danger.
“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence as well as being dangerous and unprofessional,” the U.S. Army Europe Command said in a statement.
Other US officials said they had seen no indication that what had happened heralded a broader strategy of harassing US or NATO reconnaissance aircraft, with one official saying it was not any sort of “concerted chess move“from Russia.
The reaction from Russian state media was largely muted, but some politicians tried to present the episode as evidence that the United States was in a direct confrontation with Moscow.
Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian parliament’s international affairs committee, said in an interview with Tass, Russia’s state news agency, that “US involvement in the Ukrainian conflict has once again been demonstrated”.
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Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.