The White House has called Russia’s jet manoeuvres “unsafe” and “reckless,” which the US says caused a US drone to be shot down over the Black Sea.
In a statement, the US military’s European Command said that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet hit the MQ-9 Reaper drone’s propeller on Tuesday. The drone had to be brought down in international waters, and it was lost.
The Black Sea is between Russia and Ukraine. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2014, the two countries have been at war.
Before the crash at 7:03am (06:03 GMT), the US military said, two Su-27s “dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9” in a way that was “reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional.”
“Aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to mistakes and unintended escalation,” the statement said.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied that the Russian fighter jet and the drone came into contact. They said later on Tuesday that the drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), went into uncontrolled flight and crashed into the water during “sharp manoeuvring.”
It said that the US drone was flying over the Black Sea near Crimea and went into a restricted area that Russia had set up as part of its offensive in Ukraine. This made the military send out fighters to stop it.
The ministry said, “The Russian fighters did not use their onboard weapons, did not come into contact with the UAV, and safely returned to their home airfield.”
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said that President Joe Biden had been told about the event.
“It’s not unusual for Russian planes to try to get in the way of US planes over the Black Sea,” Kirby told reporters.
But Kirby said, “This case is notable because it was dangerous, unprofessional, and even reckless.” He added, “We don’t need to check in with the Russians before we fly in international airspace.”
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US Department of State, said that the US government would call Russia’s ambassador to talk about the incident, which he called a clear violation of international law.
Price told reporters, “We are talking directly with the Russians, again at the highest levels, to tell them how strongly we disagree with this dangerous and unprofessional intercept that led to the downing of the unmanned US aircraft.”