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Friday, March 31, 2023

Loss of US Black Sea drone ‘disgraceful’, says Russian envoy

Russia’s ambassador in Washington, DC, has accused the US Air Force of unprofessionalism over the loss of an MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Black Sea on Tuesday, adding that the loss of the $32 million vehicle was “a disgrace”. .

Ambassador Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday continued Moscow’s attacks on the US over the loss of the drone, which the Air Force said was caused by Russian Su-27 fighter jets dumping fuel on a Reaper and then ramming the propeller of a Reaper flying over international airspace flew.

Antonov tells news week that the drone was gathering intelligence to support Ukrainian attacks on Russian positions in occupied Crimea and denied that Russian fighter pilots were unprofessional or aggressive.

“Of course it’s a shame for the Pentagon to lose [this] expensive device,” Antonov said on Wednesday, as quoted by Russia’s state news agency Tass.

“I repeat for those who have not gathered to look at the situation objectively: our fighters did not come into contact with the American UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle]’ added Antonov.

“Russia did everything to prevent such an incident – it timely informed the international community about the limits of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation,” he said, using Kremlin terminology for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine .

Although Russian and NATO planes regularly intercept each other at their respective borders, Tuesday’s incident raised concerns about an escalation given the loss of the drone, which Moscow is now reportedly trying to recover.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested that the US should shoot down Russian planes in retaliation. Antonov said the senator’s proposals “go well beyond common sense.”

“This is by no means the first attempt by the notorious lawmaker to provoke a dangerous escalation in US-Russian relations,” Antonov said. “A year ago he called on our citizens to assassinate the Russian President. Does Senator Graham really believe that a direct military encounter with Russia is in the interests of the constituents who have entrusted their lives and livelihoods to him?”

In March 2022, after the invasion of Ukraine had begun, Graham suggested that the Russians assassinate President Vladimir Putin.

“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” he tweeted. “This can only end if someone in Russia takes out this guy. You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service.”

Brutus was among those who assassinated Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, and German Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944.

“A deliberate attack on a Russian aircraft in neutral airspace is not only a crime under international law, but an open declaration of war on the largest nuclear power. An armed conflict between Russia and the United States would be radically different from proxy warfare. “The Americans are fighting us in Ukraine from afar,” Antonov said.

“Not the Russian pilots should be called, but American politicians who instigate the beginning of an apocalyptic conflict.”

news week emailed Graham’s office to request comment.

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