Over the Black Sea. In Russia’s backyard.
A Russian fighter jet on Tuesday struck the propeller of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea, causing American forces to bring down the unmanned aerial vehicle in international waters, the U.S. military said, an incident that highlighted soaring U.S.-Russian tensions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
The U.S. European Command said in a statement that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets “conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept” of a U.S. MQ-9 drone that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea.
It said one of the Russian fighters “struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.” The statement said that several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner.”
“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” it said.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, which has repeatedly voiced concern about U.S. intelligence flights close to the Crimean Peninsula