"A dangerous and unprofessional act on the part of the Russians," General James Hecker, commander of the US air forces in Europe, said on Tuesday. On the same day, an American Reaper drone was "intercepted and rammed" by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea, the general said. A version of the facts that Russia denies.

"Our MQ-9 drone was performing routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and rammed by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the crash and loss of the MQ-9," the military official said. He said that before one of the Russian Su-27 fighters collided with the drone damaging the propeller, these fighter jets had dropped fuel and flew over the aircraft several times.

Russian ambassador in Washington summoned

This is the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory on February 24, 2022 that a NATO country, which supports Ukraine, admits to losing equipment operated by itself in this highly flammable region. "The drones of the United States and allies will continue to operate in international airspace," the general argued, calling on the Russians to "behave professionally." "The aggressive actions of Russian crews could lead to misunderstandings and unintentional escalation," the US military said in the same statement.

A White House spokesman, John Kirby, denounced a "reckless act" on the part of the Russians, noting that there had been interceptions of American drones by Russian aircraft in the past, but that this incident was "unique" in that it resulted in the loss of the Reaper.

In protest, the US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, while US Ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy sent a message to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

No "contact" on the Russian side

Faced with Washington's statements, Moscow gave its version of the facts: "Following a brutal maneuver around 9:30 Moscow time, the MQ-9 drone began an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and hit the surface of the water," said the Russian Ministry of Defense, adding that its two fighters had not fired and had no "contact" with the drone and "returned safely to their basis."

The Russian ministry also says that the drone was detected "in the area of the Crimean peninsula" and that it was advancing "in the direction" of the borders of the Russian Federation. "We refute Russia's denial," John Kirby later told CNN, adding that the United States had "taken steps" to recover their aircraft.

  • USA
  • War in Ukraine
  • Russia
  • World
  • NATO
  • Drone
  • Tensions