Russian ships search against the clock for the remains of the US drone that two fighters from its air forces intercepted on Tuesday over the Black Sea. For the Kremlin, the incident is irrefutable proof of Washington’s involvement in the war in Ukraine. Although Moscow assures that the crash of the drone was not the product of a downing of its fighters, but of a stall, it warns that in the future it will shoot down aircraft that enter an international zone that it considers its own.
“Regarding the drone, the Americans say all the time that they are not participating in the hostilities. This is another confirmation that they are directly involved in these events, in the war,” warned the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, during an interview. “We must defend our independence and our sovereignty,” said the former top leader of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the former KGB.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, held a telephone conversation on Wednesday about the incident, but neither party revealed the content of the conversation. Hours earlier, Austin assured that the United States will continue to fly surveillance drones in international airspace. According to the Secretary of Defense, the drone was carrying out “routine operations” and the Russian fighters “engaged in dangerous, reckless and unprofessional practices.”
The official version of the Russian Ministry of Defense emphasizes that its pilots did not shoot or grazed the aircraft, but that it plunged into the sea after carrying out “abrupt maneuvers” due to the proximity of the Su-27 fighters. The Pentagon claims that Russian planes intercepted the reconnaissance aircraft, dumped fuel on it and, finally, one of the fighters hit the drone’s propeller.
In a press conference at the Pentagon, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, stressed this Wednesday that the harassment of the drone by the Russian fighters was “intentional”, although he admitted that “it is not clear if the physical contact (rubbing or impact on the drone’s propeller) was” and, therefore, it could have been an accident. The episode is being investigated, confirmed in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
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Moscow wants access to the contents of the MQ-9 Reaper plane that fell in the Black Sea and its Armed Forces are tracking the remains. “I don’t know if we will be able to find them or not, but this must be done, and for sure we will,” Patrushev confirmed on the show. Moscow, Kremlin, Putin of the Rossiya channel 1.
Given the depth of the seabed where the drone (2.5 tons) fell, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, told CNN on Wednesday that it is not clear if the remains could be recovered at any time. day.
US sources have confirmed to CNN that Washington managed to remotely erase software of the drone to prevent Russia from collecting secret information. The US shares intelligence data collected in the Black Sea with Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoli Antonov, reiterated in a television intervention that his planes “will not allow anyone to enter Russian territorial waters.” Antonov was summoned to consultations by Washington the same Tuesday to give explanations of the incident.
The Russian ambassador claimed that the clash took place over its territorial waters, but its Defense Ministry admitted on Tuesday that the incident took place outside its borders, in the area where Moscow has declared on its own a “temporary regime for the use of the airspace with the objective of carrying out the special military operation”. That is, the invasion of Ukraine.
Antonov, like Patrushev, accused Washington of taking a direct part in the war. “What are they doing thousands of miles from the United States? The answer is obvious: they collect intelligence information that is later used by the kyiv regime to attack our Armed Forces and our territory,” the ambassador said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also commented on the event on the Rossiya 1 channel. “Any incident that causes a clash between two great powers, two nuclear powers, the largest in the world, always implies very serious risks for global security. They (the United States) must not forget about this,” warned the head of Russian diplomacy, noting that Washington “has completely ignored the zone with a restrictive status” that Russian forces “declared over the Black Sea after beginning the military operation special”.
The Kremlin avoided elaborating on the event in the morning. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, stated that relations with Washington are “in a sorry state” and recommended that journalists contact the Ministry of Defense to obtain answers about the facts. Later, the Kremlin representative quipped on television: “Maybe it wasn’t necessary to fly where it’s not supposed to. It would have been environmentally friendly”.
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