A U.S. drone over international waters above the Black Sea was taken down on Tuesday after a pair of Russian fighter jets dumped fuel onto it and bumped its propeller.
The Reaper drone's loss was confirmed in a statement by the U.S. European Command.
— US Burning (@UsBurning) March 14, 2023
“These aggressive actions by Russian air crew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation,” EUCOM said.
"Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9," Gen. James Hecker, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, added in a statement. "In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash."
🚨 ‘Reckless’ Russian fighter jet forces down US Air Force drone flying over Black Seahttps://t.co/O5PnGfzxsf
— The Independent (@Independent) March 14, 2023
"The UAV was flying 'well clear of any territory over Ukraine' while performing an unspecified intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission, the US Department of Defence said on Tuesday," the Independent wrote.
"Russia’s Defence Ministry said the US drone was flying near its borders and intruded in the area that was declared off limits by Russia, causing the military to scramble fighters to intercept it. 'As a result of sharp manoeuvre, the US drone went into uncontrollable flight with a loss of altitude,' and fell into the water, it said," according to the report.
Russian jets force down US drone over the Black Sea https://t.co/pcC01mFpp4
— angel sabino (@ngls) March 15, 2023
The U.S. State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to a meeting Tuesday with Karen Donfried, the assistant secretary of state for Europe, according to the Associated Press.
“We are engaging directly with the Russians, again at senior levels, to convey our strong objections to this unsafe, unprofessional intercept, which caused the downing of the unmanned U.S. aircraft,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price, the AP stated.
Russian jets have caused problems for U.S. fighter jets in the past but the latest concern related to the invasion of Ukraine is a more serious development.
The U.S. has sought to supply weapons to Ukraine without becoming personally involved in the conflict. Russia's moves are making this increasingly difficult as it makes direct contact with Americans drones operating above the area.
The incident must be carefully handled to help avoid a larger conflict in the region that could create much bigger problems for the U.S. and Russia.