American defense and diplomatic officials criticized Russia after an American drone was downed over the Black Sea this week following an interception by Russian jets.
Two Russian Su-27 fighters intercepted an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday in what American defense officials are calling reckless.
The Russian jets released fuel on the drone and flew in front of the craft. One of the Russian jets then collided with the American drone, causing the drone to fall into the sea.
The United States consulted with NATO over the downing of the drone over international waters and discussed the downing with the Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who rejected the American allegations.
The defense chiefs of Russia and the United States spoke for the first time in 2023 following the incident. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the incident with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu
With today’s loss of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Black Sea, we are once again reminded of the treacherous reality of our involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war.
The United States of America has already been depleted of more than $100 Billion for aid to Ukraine.… https://t.co/94Sak7cm1j
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 14, 2023
Austin said in a press conference this week that “it’s important that great powers be models of transparency and communications.”
The secretary added that “we take any potential for escalation very seriously.” Austin said that he believed it was important to discuss such issues with Shoigu to “prevent miscalculation going forward.”
The exact intentions of the Russian jets were not clear, according to the Pentagon. The interception comes during a particularly fierce part of the war between Russia in Ukraine, especially surrounding the city of Bakhmut.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stated that the Russian jets intentionally intercepted the drone, but that it was unclear whether or not the collision was intentional. Milley said that he had a call scheduled with the Russian chief of staff Valery Gerasimov.
The Pentagon’s statements were also met by those from the U.S. State Department, which also condemned the Russian actions.
According to spokesperson Ned Price, the incident was “a brazen violation of international law,” though he also deferred on assessing Russian intentions in the incident. The American ambassador in Russia Lynne Tracy issued a similar condemnation to Moscow, according to the State Department.