The US released classified footage of the MQ-9 drone being intercepted by the Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Black Sea. The incident took place last Tuesday (14) and raised tensions between Moscow and Washington.
The video was taken from a camera on the underside of the unmanned aircraft. The video footage, released on Thursday by US Europe Command, shows Russian aircraft dumping fuel and then attacking a US drone.
Earlier, Washington had declared that the reconnaissance drone had collided with a Russian fighter jet in international waters. According to the American version, the MQ-9 unmanned aircraft crashed into the sea after one of the Russian fighters hit its propeller. The US State Department called the action “unsafe and unprofessional”.
Moscow acknowledged the crash of the US drone, but did not speak of a collision with one of its fighter jets. The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the incident took place in the Crimea region, when a US drone with transponders turned off flew towards Russia. After the discovery of the drone, fighters of Russia’s service air defense forces were called into action. The folder claimed that the drone fell into the water due to sudden maneuvers and that the Russian fighters would not have come into contact with the MQ-9, nor used airborne weapons.
US officials say the drone crashed after its rear propeller was hit by a Russian fighter jet.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in turn, claims that Washington does not take into account the fact that, after the start of the military operation in Ukraine, there are restrictions on flights in the coastal regions of the Black Sea. He pointed out that such US actions look like a provocation designed to heighten tensions.
According to the minister, the United States constantly talks about being a responsible power interested in strategic stability. However, as the diplomat noted, his statements are at odds with the case.
Russia will defend its interests, says spokesperson
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow is not seeking a confrontation with the US after the drone incident. According to her, “it is important to maintain the lines of communication”, but reinforced that Russia will protect its interests.
“We think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. In fact, we’re letting them down,” she said at a briefing in Moscow, commenting on the drone incident.
“We do not seek confrontation, we stand for pragmatic cooperation in the interests of the peoples of our countries, but at the same time we know how to defend these interests,” added Zakharova.
Editing: Patricia de Matos