- The US released footage of a Russian jet forcing down one of its Reaper drones over the Black sea.
- The video shows a jet flying up to the drone and dumping fuel, and the drone’s propeller getting damaged.
- The US accuses Russia of reckless behavior, while Russia has denied there was any contact made.
The US released video it says shows a Russian fighter jet forcing down a US Reaper drone over the Black Sea.
The incident has further frayed relations between Washington and Moscow, with the US accusing Russia of recklessness, while Russia insists it did nothing wrong.
The video, shared by US European Command on Thursday, shows footage from the US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone recorded on March 14.
US European Command said Russia did an “unsafe/unprofessional intercept” of the drone. White House officials have gone further, describing Russia’s actions as “reckless” and issuing a formal diplomatic rebuke by summoning Russia’s US ambassador.
You can watch the video here:
This is what the US European Command says the video shows:
00:00: [Start of video] A Russian Su-27 approaches the back of the US drone.
00:05: A Russian jet starts to to release fuel as it the drone.
00:09 A Russian jet passes over the drone while releasing fuel, and the video transmission is disrupted.
00:11: The propeller of the US drone is undamaged at this point.
00:22: A Russian jet starts to approach the drone again.
00:27: A Russian jet starts to release fuel as it approaches the drone, and then starts to pass even closer to the drone.
00:29: A jet collides with the drone and the drone’s camera feed is lost for around 60 seconds.
00:39: The drone’s camera feed returns. The propeller can be seen again and one of its blades appears bent.
The video then ends. It does not show the drone falling into the sea.
The US said on Tuesday that the Su-27 jet clipped the drone when it was over the Black Sea, the strategic body of water south of Ukraine.
The Pentagon said that the US had to bring down the drone as the incident made it “unflyable.”
US European Command said two Russian Su-27 jets carried out an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept” of the US drone, when it was in international airspace.
It said the two jets dumped fuel on and flew in front of the drone, and then one of them hit the drone’s propeller, which is at the rear of the aircraft.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the incident was worse than other intercepts Russia routinely attempts “because of how unsafe and unprofessional … indeed reckless that it was.”
The drone was conducting routine operations, the US said.
Russia denied that there was any contact between the jet and the drone, saying the drone crashed after “sharp maneuvering.”
Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said in a statement on Wednesday that the drone was “deliberately and provocatively was moving towards Russian territory with transponders turned off.”
US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said on Wednesday that the US is not sure if the Russian jet meant to collide with the drone, which he said could have been down to sloppy flying.
But he said that the harassment that came before was definitely deliberate: “We know that the intercept was intentional, we know that the aggressive behavior was intentional, we also know it was very unprofessional and very unsafe.”