A Russian Su-27 fighter jet approaches the rear of an MQ-9 Reaper drone and begins to dump fuel in a U.S. Department of Defense video photo on March 16, 2023.
Moscow – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu nominated the pilots of two Russian Su-27 fighter jets who prevented the American MQ-9 Reaper drone from violating the borders of the “special military operations” space, as Moscow calls the invasion of Ukraine by its troops, for a state award. This was announced today by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The ministry initially claimed the drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday due to its own violent maneuvering, and denied a crash or the use of weapons. But the US Department of Defense released a video on Thursday that shows a Russian warplane approaching a US military drone and dumping fuel near it. At the end of the video, a damaged drone propeller can be seen. According to the Americans, a Russian fighter collided with an American reconnaissance drone and hit its propeller.
The Russian Ministry emphasized in today's communiqué that the fighters prevented the drone from penetrating beyond the borders of the area of the temporary regime of airspace use, established precisely because of a “special military operation “, and that all users of international airspace have been notified of the boundaries of this area.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke with their Russian counterparts Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday. The incident, in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, has intensified fears of a direct conflict between Russia and the United States. According to the AP agency, this is evidenced by the fact how quickly a telephone connection was established between Washington and Moscow.