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Russia: ‘If strike drone appeared near New York, how would US react?’ The Reaper crash row so far

Russia and the United States have differing accounts of what caused a drone from America to crash into Black Sea on Tuesday.

This is the first direct contact between the two countries since the Ukraine war began last year.

“Something clearly went wrong”; see the latest from Ukraine

Two Russian fighter jets intercepted an ‘unmanned aerial vessel’. However, American officials claim that the US flew too close to their territory.


Sky News examines what we know so far.

What’s the deal?

Regularly, the US uses spy drones to gather intelligence about Ukraine, including MQ-9 Reaper.

Remotely flying Reapers up to 50,000ft is possible. Reapers are used for surveillance, but can also be equipped with missiles to carry out attack missions.

Image: MQ-9 Reaper drone. AP file pic

Sky News’ Defence Analyst Professor Michael Clarke says that the Americans had a surveillance drone flying in circles above the Black Sea.

“It was probably just surveying, picking-up intelligence from the ground. They buzz them with their aircraft to try and dissuade them.

Two Russian Su-27 fighter planes flew in front of the drone and dropped fuel on it to try to blind it or damage it.

The Reaper’s rear propeller was cut by one of the Su-27s between Odesa and Crimea.

The damage caused by the accident forced the Americans to dump it into the sea.

What have the US said?

According to the US Department of Defense, the fighter jet was forced to crash land after it came into contact with the drone.

“Several times prior to the collision, Su-27s dumped gasoline on and flew infront of the MQ-9 recklessly, environmentally unsound, and unprofessionally,” US Air Forces Europe commander James B. Hecker stated.

The US claims it was performing routine operations in international aviation space and that the Russian interception was unsafe and unprofessional.

The European Command also stated that Reapers are allowed to carry weapons for attacking missions. However, Tuesday’s incident was purely for intelligence.

What does Russia have to say?

According to the Kremlin, the drone flew too close to Crimea which it annexed in 2014. It claims that Crimea is its territory.

Russia also falsely declared this area a no fly zone, describing the incident in the same way as a “provocation”.

Anatoly Antonov (Russian ambassador to the USA) stated that the unacceptable actions of the United States Military in close proximity to our border are cause for concern.

“What would the US Air Force or Navy do if a Russian strike drone showed up near New York City or San Francisco?

Image: Russian Air Force Su-27 jet fighters. File pic

Moscow claims that the Su-27 is equipped with a 30mm gun and did not use any airborne weapons.

It claims that its jet was not in contact with the Reaper, and that the crash resulted from “sharp maneuvering”.

Professor Clarke said, “In my mind something clearly went wrong.

“Any pilot of an aircraft who can deliberately fly into the propeller of a drone going so slow is an idiot.”

“It is more likely that it was an accidental landing and the pilot struck the propeller.”

What now?

The Soviet-era aircraft was able to safely return to its base, but the US drone was not.

Deborah Haynes, Sky News security editor and defense editor, stated that the Americans would have done everything they could to ensure that nothing secret was made accessible, deleted or destroyed.

On Tuesday, the US summoned Russian Ambassador Mr Antonov to Washington. He stated that Russia doesn’t want any direct confrontation.

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Professor Clarke said that the “back-and-forth” between the sides will likely continue over the next few days.

“The US is constantly gathering information and you wouldn’t expect the Russians not to enjoy it and not try to disrupt it.”

“This game has been ongoing for several months.

It’s no longer a contest between US intelligence and Russian planes.


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