Washington [US]: The US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to convey “our strong objections”, department spokesman Ned Price said after a Russian Su-27 fighter jet downed an American military drone over the Black Sea, reported CNN.
Price also stated that US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy “has conveyed a strong message to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” On Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of the American MQ-9 Reaper drone, according to American forces.
The Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 aircraft were flying over international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when one of the Russian jets “intentionally” flew in front of and dumped fuel on the unmanned drone several times, a statement from US European Command said.
The aircraft then hit the propeller of the drone, prompting US forces to bring the MQ-9 drone down in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder added Tuesday that the Russian aircraft flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding just after 7 am (Central European Time), according to CNN.
Giving out details about the incident, Air Force General James B Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in a statement, “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.”
This incident is seen as the first time when Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine.
The incident is likely to increase tensions between the two nations, with the US calling Russia’s actions “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional.”
President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday morning, according to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby, reported CNN.
Defence Department officials “have not spoken specifically to Russian authorities” on the incident, Ryder said.
Price said separately that the US has “engaged at high levels with our allies and partners” to brief them on the incident. He added that the US was “not in a position to speak to what the Russians intended to do” with the maneuvers, but that ultimately the intent mattered less than “what actually transpired.”