Russia rushes to save US drone wreckage in Black Sea

Moscow said on Wednesday it would attempt to recover the wreckage of a US military drone that crashed over the Black Sea in a confrontation Washington blamed on two Russian fighter jets.

Russia also warned of ‘hostile’ US flights as tensions simmered and Russia denied that its Su-27 military plane cut off the propeller of the unmanned Reaper drone.

Meanwhile, kyiv countered that the incident over international waters was proof that the Kremlin wanted to drag the United States into the conflict in Ukraine.

“I don’t know whether we can get it back or not, but it has to be done. And we will definitely work on it,” Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in a televised address.

Tuesday’s accident, which Washington said was the fault of reckless and unprofessional Russian conduct, further heightened tensions between Moscow and its Western allies, which were already spiraling over the Ukraine conflict.

Patrushev said the incident was further proof that the United States is a direct party to the fighting between Moscow and Kyiv and said Russia had a responsibility to “defend our independence and sovereignty”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it scrambled jets after it detected a US drone over the Black Sea and denied causing the crash.

The Pentagon said the drone was on a routine mission when it was intercepted “in a reckless, environmentally friendly and unprofessional manner.”

Russia said the plane had lost control, but White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the United States had “obviously” refuted the denial.

He added that the United States was trying to prevent the downed drone from falling into the wrong hands.

“We have taken steps to protect our actions with respect to this particular drone – this particular aircraft,” Kirby told CNN.

Regular interceptions

Russian interceptions over the Black Sea are common, Kirby said, but this one was particularly “dangerous and unprofessional” and “reckless”.

Ukraine said the incident was “provoked by Russia” and warned it signaled President Vladimir Putin’s aim to “extend the conflict”.

“The purpose of this all-encompassing tactic is to always raise the stakes,” Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on social media.

NATO diplomats in Brussels confirmed the incident, but said they did not expect it to escalate immediately into a new confrontation.

A Western military source, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said diplomatic channels between Russia and the United States could help limit the fallout.

“In my view, diplomatic channels will mitigate this,” the source said.

Russia’s campaign in Ukraine has raised fears of a direct confrontation between Moscow and NATO, which has armed kyiv to help defend itself.

Reports of a missile strike in eastern Poland in November briefly raised alarm before Western military sources concluded it was a Ukrainian air defense missile, not a Russian one.

“Instealable and uncontrollable”

The United States uses MQ-9 Reapers for both surveillance and strikes and has long operated over the Black Sea keeping tabs on Russian naval forces.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was performing 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 general said. US Air Force Commander US Air Force James Hecker. Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.

“In fact, this dangerous and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused the two planes to crash.

“American and allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to behave professionally and safely,” he added.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the drone was “unflyable and out of control, so we shot it down,” adding that the collision also likely damaged the Russian plane, which he said , was able to land after the incident.

Several American Reapers have been lost in recent years, particularly to hostile fire.

One of them was shot down in 2019 over Yemen with a surface-to-air missile fired by Houthi rebels, the US central command said at the time.

Reapers can be armed with Hellfire missiles as well as laser-guided bombs and can fly more than 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) at altitudes up to 15,000 meters (50,000 feet), according to the US Air Strength.

Leave a Comment