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U.S. and Russia Clash Over Black Sea Drone Incident

On March 14, the U.S. Defense Department's European Command released a video clip of a Russian Su-27 fighter jet colliding with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea.[0] A screenshot of the clip shows the jet spraying the drone with what appears to be jet fuel.[1] The U.S. Air Force said the drone was engaging in routine operations when the incident happened, and that the collision caused the “complete loss” of the drone.[2] Russia, however, has denied the US version of events, blaming the crash on a “sharp manoeuvre” performed by the drone and claiming it was flying towards Crimea.[3]

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. will continue to operate wherever international law allows, and it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley said he wasn't sure whether the Russian jet had intentionally made contact with the U.S. drone, though the Pentagon spokesperson said the Russian jet likely was damaged but was still able to land.[4]

Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov has accused the US of supplying intelligence to Kyiv and called the incident a provocation.[5] He said Moscow was concerned about the unacceptable activity of the US military in the immediate vicinity of its borders.[5] Meanwhile, Russian ships are at the location where the U.S. drone crashed, and the US has said it has made it impossible for Russia to glean any intelligence value off the remnants of the drone.[6]

Russia has awarded state honors to the pilots of two fighter jets the U.S. has accused of forcing down the American Reaper drone.[7] The Russian defence ministry declared that a drone had flown into a restricted area near the Russian border.[8] US Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker said the US will continue to fly and operate wherever international law allows and that Russia must operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.

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0. “Colbert Knows How Reagan Would Really Respond to Russia: Take Them Down ‘By Funneling Crack Into Neighborhoods’ (Video)” Yahoo Life, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/colbert-knows-reagan-really-respond-144605521.html

1. “Russia awards pilots involved in confrontation with a U.S. drone over Black Sea” NPR, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/17/1164156844/russia-awards-pilots-involved-in-confrontation-with-a-u-s-drone-over-black-sea

2. “Moscow likely sending message by harassing US drone, but US says pilot screwed up” Business Insider, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/moscow-likely-sending-message-harassing-military-drone-us-critciizes-pilot-2023-3

3. “Russia's drone attack: Why China could try it next” Fox News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/russias-drone-attack-why-china-could-try-next

4. “Defense Secretary Austin speaks to Russian counterpart about US drone incident” ABC News, 15 Mar. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/defense-secretary-austin-speaks-russian-counterpart-us-drone/story?id=97883575

5. “US releases footage of Russian jet crashing into American drone over Black Sea” The Guardian US, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/16/us-releases-footage-russian-jet-crashing-into-american-drone-over-black-sea

6. “Russian Ambassador: ‘Odious' Lindsey Graham Risks Nuclear War Over a Drone” The Daily Beast, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-ambassador-odious-lindsey-graham-risks-nuclear-war-over-a-drone

7. “Russia gives state awards to pilots behind US drone crash” Fox News, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/world/russia-gives-state-awards-pilots-behind-us-drone-crash

8. “US accuses Russia of downing drone over Black Sea: What we know” Al Jazeera English, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/15/us-accuses-russian-jet-of-downing-us-drone-what-we-know-so-far

9. “US military releases footage of Russian warplane forcing down Air Force drone” The Hill, 16 Mar. 2023, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/3902974-us-military-releases-footage-of-russian-warplane-forcing-down-air-force-drone

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