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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

White House says Russia forcing US drone down will not end flights in Black Sea

The White House has criticized the actions of two Russian fighter jet pilots who forced an unmanned US spy drone into the water after a collision over the Black Sea.

Referring to the incident, which was announced by US European Command (EUCOM) on Tuesday, National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby confirmed that President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident and that “it is not an unusual honor to that there are attempts to eavesdrop on Russian planes or US planes over the Black Sea,” although incidents have already occurred in recent weeks.

“But this one is obviously notable because it was unsafe and unprofessional, even reckless, and caused one of our planes to crash,” he added. “So in that way it’s unique.”

And while Kirby said he wasn’t yet sure what the intentions of the Russian pilots were, he said: “If the message is that they prevent or want to prevent us from flying and operating in international airspace over the Black Sea , then the message will fail because that will not happen.”

“We will continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters,” he added. “The Black Sea does not belong to any nation and we will continue to do what we need to do for our own national security interests in this part of the world.”

The comments came shortly after EUCOM released a statement revealing the incident in which two Russian Su-27 aircraft dumped fuel onto a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air system and previously flew in front of the drone One of the jets hit the drone’s propeller, prompting US forces to take the drone into the sea.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in the crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of the US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, the statement said, which EUCOM shared news week. “In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional action by the Russians nearly caused both planes to crash.”

“US and allied planes will continue to operate in international airspace and we urge the Russians to behave professionally and safely,” he added.

This is an evolving message. More information will be added as it becomes available.

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