Moscow warns U.S. aircraft away from its air space after drone crash

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Moscow told Washington on Wednesday to keep well away from its air space after a U.S. drone intercepted by Russian jets crashed into the Black Sea, the first known direct confrontation between the superpowers since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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The U.S. military said the incident was caused by a mid-air collision after two Russian Su-27 fighter planes approached one of its MQ-9 Reaper drones on a reconnaissance mission over international waters.

The fighters harassed the drone and poured fuel on it, before one clipped the drone’s propeller, causing it to crash into the sea, Washington said.

“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” said James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. air forces in Europe.

Moscow denied the aircraft had collided and said the drone had crashed after “sharp manoeuvres”. It said the drone had flown close to its air space with its transponders off, and that Russia had scrambled fighters to identify it.

About the MQ-9 Reaper incident in the Black Sea, that the US drone crashed on its own in the area of the Crimean Peninsula. The Su-27 of Russian Air Force does not engage the onboard weapons and does not make contact with the UAV. As a result of a sharp maneuver, the drone lost control by losing altitude and crashing into the water surface.

In a statement published on the website of the U.S. embassy in Washington early on Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador Anatoly Antonov said the U.S. drone had “deliberately and provocatively” approached Russian air space.

“The unacceptable activity of the U.S. military in the close proximity to our borders is a cause for concern,” he said. “They gather intelligence, which is subsequently used by the Kyiv regime to strike at our armed forces and territory.”

“Let us ask a rhetorical question: if, for example, a Russian strike drone appeared near New York or San Francisco, how would the U.S. Air Force and Navy react?” he said, calling on Washington to “stop making sorties near the Russian borders”.

The United States conducts regular surveillance flights in international air space in the region. It has supported Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in military aid but says its troops have not become directly engaged in the war.

Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said it was a “very sensitive stage in this conflict because it really is the first direct contact that the public knows about between the West and Russia.”

Source: Moscow warns U.S. aircraft away from its air space after drone crash (

Emil Cosman: What actually happened between Russia’s Su-27 and the US’ military drone in the Black Sea?

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