“A dangerous and unprofessional act on the part of the Russians,” said General James Hecker, commander of the American air forces in Europe, on Tuesday. That same day, an American Reaper drone was “intercepted and hit” by Russian fighter planes over the Black Sea, the general said. A version of the facts that Russia denies.
“Our MQ-9 drone was performing routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and rammed by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the crash and loss of the MQ-9,” the military official said. He said that prior to the collision of one of the Russian Su-27 fighters with the drone damaging the propeller, these fighter jets had dumped fuel and flown over the device several times.
Russian ambassador to Washington summoned
It is the first time since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory on February 24, 2022 that a NATO country, support of Ukraine, has acknowledged losing equipment operated by itself in this highly flammable region. . “US and allied drones will continue to operate in international airspace,” the general said, calling on the Russians to “behave professionally.” “The aggressive actions of Russian crews could lead to misunderstandings and an involuntary escalation”, insists the American army in the same press release.
A White House spokesman, John Kirby, denounced a “reckless act” on the part of the Russians, noting that there had been interceptions of American drones by Russian planes in the past, but that this incident was “unique” in that it resulted in the loss of the Reaper.
In protest, the US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, while US Ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy sent a message to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
No “contact” on the side of the Russians
Faced with Washington’s statements, Moscow gave its version of the facts: “Following a brutal maneuver around 9:30 a.m. Moscow time, the MQ-9 drone began an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and struck the surface of the water”, indicated the Russian Ministry of Defense, specifying that its two hunters had not fired and had not had “contact” with the drone and “returned safely to their base” .
The Russian ministry also says that the drone was detected “in the area of the Crimean peninsula” and that it was advancing “in the direction” of the borders of the Russian Federation. “We refute Russia’s denial,” John Kirby later told CNN, adding that the United States had “taken steps” to recover their device.