US claims Russian warplane struck its surveillance drone over Black Sea
Moscow refuted the allegation, saying that the drone crashed into the water due to a sharp manoeuvre it took.
The United States on Tuesday claimed that its surveillance drone was struck by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Pentagon, the Russian jet hit the drone’s propeller, causing its American operators to land it in international waters.
This was the first known physical contact between the Russian and American militaries since the war in Ukraine started in February last year, The New York Times reported.
On its part, Russia alleged that the drone was flying over the Black Sea near Crimea and intruded into an area that was declared off-limits.
The Russian defence ministry said that the fighter jet did not hit the drone or use weapons against it. The ministry said that the drone itself took a sharp manoeuvre and crashed into the water, according to the Associated Press.
“As a result of a sharp manoeuvre, the MQ-9 drone went into unguided flight with a loss of altitude and crashed into the water,” it said. “The Russian fighters didn’t use their weapons, didn’t come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and they safely returned to their base.”
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine in 2014. Crimea was previously an autonomous republic region bordering Ukraine and Russia.
On Tuesday, the United States State Department spokesman Ned Price termed the incident as a “brazen violation of international law.”
Price said that the White House summoned the Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov to lodge a protest over the incident. He added that the United States Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has also made similar representations in Moscow.
The Pentagon claimed the Russian aircraft flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before “colliding”, reported CNN.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting 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,” Air Force General James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in a statement. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
Meanwhile, Antonov said that Moscow wants to keep pragmatic ties with Washington, adding that his country does not want any confrontation between the United States and Russia.