It was the unfortunate moment many of us felt was inevitable after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began to turn into a worldwide proxy war: The Russian military has now directly engaged with an American military aircraft in international airspace above the Black Sea.
The tension has been building in Moscow and around the globe as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goading of the international community continues to grow more belligerent by the week. With his military taking an enormous number of casualties in their latest push to conquer Ukraine, it appears that Putin is lashing out at the west.
A US ‘Reaper’ drone crashed into the Black Sea after being intercepted by two Russian fighter jets.
The Pentagon said one of the Russian Su-27 warplanes struck the UAV’s propeller, inflicting so much damage that it had to be brought down.
Moscow said the drone maneuvered sharply and crashed into water following an encounter with Russian fighter jets scrambled to intercept it near Crimea, but insisted its warplanes didn’t fire their weapons or hit it.
Reactions were terse and came swiftly.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said President Joe Biden was briefed on it, while NATO’s top commander updated allies.
Mr. Kirby said US State Department officials would be speaking directly with Russian counterparts and ‘expressing our concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional intercept’.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a ‘brazen violation of international law’ and said the US has summoned the Russian ambassador.
The US European Command said in a statement that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets ‘conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept’ of a US MQ-9 drone that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea.
Several times before the collision, the fighter jets dumped fuel on the drone and flew in front of it in ‘a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner, it added.
With the world already on the edge of a widespread conflict and Biden’s weak-kneed approach to foreign policy, the likely American response to the incident will likely take a muted tone…at least for now.
Cross-posted with Liberty Hub