Pentagon Doubles Down On Flights Near Russia’s Border After Drone Collision Incident
Despite its MQ-9 Reaper drone crashing into the Black Sea on Tuesday after reportedly being harrassed and hit in a midair collision by a Russian fighter jet, the Pentagon is doubling down on its provocative and clearly risky flights near Russia’s border.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed the major incident Wednesday, vowing that the US will continue deploying its aircraft even after the highly dangerous near-miss (“near-miss” in the sense it could have been much worse) which many feared could have sparked a shooting war between the nuclear-armed super powers.
“This hazardous episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace,” Austin said, addressing an audience of government representatives from countries allied to Ukraine.
“So make no mistake: The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows,” he continued. “And it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”
The day prior, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that while such intercepts by Russian planes are not uncommon over the Black Sea, this incident is “noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was.” He claimed that the US drone was subject to fuel-dumping by one of the two Russian jets.
Kirby followed up in a media interview Wednesday by saying it’s unclear whether the drone can be recovered as it went down in “very deep water”.
Russia meanwhile blamed the US side for the drone making sharp maneuvers, but stopped short of specifics in its vague and somewhat ambiguous description. US officials say the Russian jets passed the UAV closely some 19 times in 30 minutes before one of the jets “missed its approach” and clipped the drone, severely damaging it…
CBS shows a presentation on downing of U.S. spy drone by Russians near Russia. Interesting detail, the ‘unarmed’ drone has missiles. Oops. pic.twitter.com/wWEQWG51KW
— Russian Market (@runews) March 15, 2023
While Western national security pundits were quick to condemn Russia’s ‘unsafe aggression’, it remains that it took place in Russia’s own backyard. The Kremlin described that it scrambled fighters given the drone was headed toward its border. Needless to say that if the same situation unfolded just off the US coast, the Pentagon wouldn’t hesitate to scramble jets and engage.
Wed, 03/15/2023 – 17:20