Moscow insists Russian planes did not make “physical contact” with drone
The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu decorated the pilots of two Su-27 fighter jets who intercepted a US drone near the airspace surrounding Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, his ministry said today.
The drone crashed on Tuesday in the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian jets. It is the first known direct confrontation between Russia and the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.
In its announcement of the awarding, the ministry repeated the Russian version of events – disputed by Washington – that Russian planes they did not come into “physical contact” with the drone.
“As a result of the sharp maneuvers, around 9:30 a.m. (Moscow time) the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle began to fly out of control and lose altitude and hit the water surface,” the ministry said.
BREAKING: DoD releases footage of a Russian Su-27 colliding into a US MQ-9 over the Black Sea Tuesday.
You can see the Russian aircraft dump fuel on the MQ-9, then bump into it. Is the video lost? a few seconds later the feed returns and you can see the propeller is damaged. pic.twitter.com/jzF7NZ1em5
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) March 16, 2023
According to the same source, the drone was flying with its transponders turned off and in violation of airspace restrictions that Russia has made public in connection with what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.
The US military has announced that Russian fighter jets have approached the American MQ-9 Reaper during its reconnaissance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace. According to the same source, the fighters harassed the drone and sprayed it with fuel during a 30-40 minute engagement, before one of them damaged the drone’s propeller causing it to crash into the sea.
The Pentagon today released a 40-second edited video showing a Russian fighter jet approaching a US military drone in mid-air, dumping fuel near it and then showing a damaged propeller. The head of the US armed forces said that the episode demonstrates Moscow’s increasingly aggressive behavior.
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