On Tuesday, 7 am Central European Time, a Russian fighter jet crashed into an American surveillance drone over the Black Sea, which is considered to be international airspace.
What led to crash of the drone?
According to the press release by the US Air Force, the Russian Su-27 aircraft intentionally collided with the US MQ- 9 Reaper drone while they were conducting routine work in international airspace. According to the US officials, there was another Russian Su-27 aircraft present over international waters, but was not involved in the collision. Further, both the Su-27s had dumped fuel over the drone multiple times and obstructed the flight pattern of the drone by flying in front of it.
Due to the unprofessional behavior exhibited by the Russians, the US operators were compelled to land the drone in international waters, which resulted in the drone crashing and becoming irrecoverable.
History between Russia and US
This is the first time the Russian and the US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since the Ukraine-Russia war, which recently completed its one year anniversary. Many have predicted that the relations between Russia and US will become worse after this encounter as the US have called Russia’s behavior ‘reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional’.
Response from Russia and the US
The Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, in a statement, has said that Russia is not looking to enter into any sort of confrontation with the US. He made this comment after he was summoned to the State Department after the crashing of the drone.
Antonov was in talks with the State Department for over an hour. Officials conveyed to him about the US’s concern regarding this incident and talked about the difference in opinions between Antonov and the US officials.
According to Antonov, Russia had previously claimed that the international space that they were flying the Su-27s over was identified as a zone for ‘special military operation’. He further defended Russia’s behavior by saying that they had previously warned countries from entering their airspace and further went on to ask the US officials what they would have done if a Russian drone was flying close to US cities.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has denied this attack and Antonov, during his talk, had reiterated it. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the fighter jets were in constant pursuit to identify the intruder and after detecting that the drone was flying over the Black sea, the drone engaged in an ‘unguided fight’ with the Russian fighter jets. Further, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the drone was flying with its transponders off, which directly violated the rules of the international airspace.
The POTUS has been briefed on the issue and according to official White House sources, has still not spoken directly on this issue with Russian officials. According to John Kirby, National Security Council communications coordinator, this interception of US aircrafts by Russian aircrafts over the Black Sea was not happening for the first time and such things have happened in recent weeks as well. Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, had said in a statement that currently efforts were being made to declassify images from the collision. He also added that Russia has made no attempts to recover the US MQ- 9 Reaper drone.
According to Kirby, the US has rejected Russia’s denial of responsibility and was taking steps to protect their equities in relation to that particular drone.
The US have been known to fly Reaper drones in the airspace over the Black Sea even before the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine war, to carry out routine monitoring over the area. These Reaper drones have the capability to fly as high as 50,000 feet and are also equipped with certain sensors which help them gather information and perform monitoring duties. Such capabilities are utilized to get clear imagery of battlefields and monitor the airspace over the Black Sea.