a russian fighter plane US Air Force drone shot down An American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging its propeller, according to the US military.

A Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 aircraft were flying in international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when a Russian jet deliberately flew in front of the unmanned drone and rammed it several times, a statement from the US European Command said. spilled fuel

The aircraft then hit the drone’s propeller, prompting the US military to bring the MQ-9 drone down in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday that the Russian plane flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before hitting it just after 7 a.m. Central European Time.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the MQ-9 crashing and being completely destroyed,” Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in the statement. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians caused both aircraft to crash.”

Russian and US military aircraft have come in direct physical contact for the first time since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine Just over a year ago and tensions between the two countries are likely to escalate, the US slammed Russia’s actions as “reckless, environmentally unhealthy and unprofessional”.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said Russia does not want a “confrontation” between his country and the US after he was summoned to the State Department over the downing of the drone.

Antonov said, “We prefer not to create a situation where we could face unexpected conflicts or unexpected events between the Russian Federation and the United States.”

Antonov, who remained inside the State Department for more than half an hour, said Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried conveyed US concerns about the incident and that they “exchanged our comments on this issue as our There are some differences.”

“I feel like this was a constructive conversation on this issue. I heard her comments, I hope she understood what I said.”

Russian Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, speaks to reporters after a meeting with Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, at the US State Department in Washington, March 14, 2023.

He also claimed that Russia had “informed about the location that had been identified as an area for special military operations.”

“We’ve got warnings of no entry, no entry,” he said, asking how the US would react if a Russian drone came close to New York or San Francisco.

Antonov reiterated a denial issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense on the incident. He denied that the Russian jet had come into contact with the drone, saying in a statement earlier on Tuesday that fighter jets “scrambled to identify the intruder” after detecting it over the Black Sea. It happened that the drone “went into an uncontrolled flight” loss of altitude.

“The drone flew with its transponder on, violated the limits of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, informed all users of international airspace and published in accordance with international standards,” the ministry said.

President Joe Biden The incident was briefed on Tuesday morning by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, according to John Kirby, communications coordinator for the National Security Council. Ryder said Defense Department officials “have not spoken specifically to Russian officials” on the incident.

Price separately said that the US “has spoken at a high level with its allies and partners” to keep them informed about the incident. He said that with the maneuvers the US was in no position to “speak to what the Russians intended to do”, but that ultimately the intention mattered less than “what actually happened”.

In this February 21 photo, a US Air Force 119th Wing MQ-9 Reaper flies over the airfield during Cope North 23 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Kirby said it was “not unusual” for Russian aircraft to intercept American planes over the Black Sea, and said there had been other interceptions in recent weeks.

But he said Tuesday’s episode was unique in how “unsafe, unprofessional and reckless” the Russian actions were.

Ryder said Tuesday that the US Department of Defense is currently working to make photographs of the incident public. He also said that Russia has not recovered the downed drone.

Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” Tuesday, Kirby said the US “has taken steps to protect our equity with respect to that particular drone.”

“We obviously don’t want to see anybody get their hands on this,” Kirby said. He added that the US rejects Russia’s denial of responsibility, adding that “people should take everything Russia says about what they are doing in and around Ukraine with a big grain of salt”. Are.”

During this, Russian and American aircraft operated over the Black Sea. ukraine warBut this is the first known interaction of its kind, a potentially dangerous escalation at a critical time in the battle.

The US has already been operating Reaper drones over the Black Sea since the start of the war, using spy drones to monitor the region. According to the Air Force, Reaper drones can fly up to an altitude of 50,000 feet, and they have sensors and capabilities to gather intelligence and perform reconnaissance for extended periods, allowing it to track movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea. It becomes an ideal platform to do so. ,

This story has been updated with additional details.

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