Kremlin approves of aggression against US drones

Kremlin approves ‘aggressive action’ of Russian fighter jets against US military drone MQ-9 Reaper on the Black Sea, writes NBC News referring to three US officials familiar with the intelligence.

“The Russian leadership deliberately behaved aggressively during the capture,” the source said. The decision was taken at the “top echelons” of the Kremlin, he and another source say. However, a third interlocutor said that there was no information that the decision was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Russian fighter jet dropped fuel on an MQ-9 in “unprecedented action”, notes NBC News. At the same time, the propeller of the drone was accidentally hit. According to the channel’s interlocutors, this could have been caused by pilot error.

The intention of the Russian military may have been to throw the drone off course or disable its surveillance capabilities, two sources say, citing intelligence.

So far, the Russian military has reached the area where the MQ-9 crashed and is actively searching for its wreckage using ships and planes, three Pentagon officials and one Joe Biden administration official said. They may have already obtained drone fragments, reports ABC News anonymous American official.

The US has taken all necessary steps to remove the drone’s software so that the Russians cannot obtain any classified information if they manage to recover the wreckage of the device, said Mark Milley, chief of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“We’re pretty sure that anything that was of value no longer has any value,” Milley said. According to him, the drone sank in a place where the water depth exceeds 1.5 km.

The heads of the US and Russian military departments Lloyd Austin and Sergei Shoigu had a telephone conversation after the incident with the downed drone. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Shoigu told his American colleague that Russia shot down the drone because the US did not comply with the Russian-announced flight restriction zone, which was established in connection with a “special operation” in Ukraine.

The Russian defense minister also pointed out that the flights of American drones off the coast of Crimea “have a provocative character, which creates conditions for the escalation of the situation.”

In turn, the head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin said that “the United States will continue to fly and work where international law allows. […] And Russia is responsible for the professional and safe handling of its own military aircraft.”


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