Amid the US-Russia tensions over the Ukraine war, an air skirmish over the Black Sea caused an escalation on Tuesday. The highly volatile scenario unfolded when a Russian air force fighter jet damaged a US drone and forced it down.
First Major Confrontation
The American drone involved in the incident was MQ-9 Reaper, while two Russian Su-27 aircraft were involved in the skirmish. The incident was the first since the start of the Ukraine war wherein Russian and US military aircraft came into physical contact with each other.
The Russian fighter jet flew in and dumped fuel on the unmanned US drone several times, according to the US European Command. The Russian jet also hit the propeller of the drone, forcing the US air force to crashland the air ship on the waters.
International Space, Says Washington
"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 ... In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash," said ," General James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa.
The US said the Russian action was "reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional."
US Aircraft Have No Business, Says Moscow
Meanwhile, Moscow said the incident was an act of provocation from the Americans. "We consider this incident a provocation," Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said. The ambassador was earlier summoned by the US State Department in Washington over the incident.
Antonov said the American planes and ships had no business being in close proximity to Russian borders. "Could you imagine what the reaction of the US media or the Pentagon would be, if such a drone would appear near New York or San Francisco?" Antonov asked, according to Russia Today.