UAV flights over the Black Sea are a sign that the US is directly involved in the conflict with Russia, the Kremlin announced today.
“It’s pretty clear what these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are doing and their mission is not at all to maintain peace or ensure the safety of shipping in international waters.” , associated Interfax quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
“In fact, we are talking about the direct involvement of drone operators in the conflict and against us,” he added.
The US MQ-9A UAV fell into the Black Sea after the incident of encountering a Russian Su-27 fighter on March 14. The US military accused two Russian Su-27 fighters of approaching, flying face-to-face and dumping oil on US UAVs over international waters. A Su-27 is said to have collided with an MQ-9A aircraft, damaging the UAV propeller, forcing the US Air Force to pilot it into the sea.
Russian officials denied the allegation, saying that the maneuvering US plane made a sharp turn and crashed on its own after losing control. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov confirmed that the MQ-9 was collecting target data to send to Ukraine before it crashed.
The Russian Defense Minister has awarded the fighter pilots a reward in the incident that caused the US drone to fall into the sea, while Washington said the incident showed the incompetence and reckless actions of the Russian pilots.
The US military on March 16 released a video of the incident, showing the Russian Su-27 fighter approaching from the right rear of the MQ-9, draining oil and then flying over the US UAV. The large exhaust stream from the tail of the Su-27 caused the MQ-9’s visual signal to be interrupted.
The camera on the UAV also showed that the propeller behind the MQ-9 slowed down and was partially damaged after the Su-27 fighter approached. Russia has not commented on this US video.
Vu Hoang (Theo Reuters)