The US will assess an incident involving a US Army MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance-strike UAV and a Russian Su-27 aircraft, with another drone already operating at the site of the downed reconnaissance UAV.
Source: Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on air during the national 24/7 broadcast and in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda
Quote: "American aircraft are in the Black Sea area on a permanent basis. The Black Sea is not an internal sea within Russia, the way they occupied the Sea of Azov and consider it theirs.
The Black Sea is exploited by many countries, including NATO members Türkiye and Romania. There is an international airspace where planes can fly freely, including reconnaissance…
It is clear what the terrorist state is doing, with what inclinations… The United States must comment on the incident first, and they will obviously draw appropriate conclusions. And the reaction of the States was instantaneous: another UAV flew in its place and continued its work."
Details: In the interview with UP, Ihnat has clarified that the incident took place in the international airspace southeast of Zmiiny (Snake) Island. He added that the Russians have repeatedly publicly emphasised that they are annoyed by American spies in the Black Sea and in Ukrainian airspace.
Ihnat explained that during the hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation, long before the full-scale invasion, US UAVs monitored the waters of the Black Sea and the demarcation line with the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.
The Air Force spokesman said that earlier, the MQ-4 Global Hawk was constantly in Ukraine's airspace with the Ukrainian authorities' agreement: it monitored the situation, observance of the ceasefire regime, etc.
The US also uses reconnaissance aircraft in the Black Sea – reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 and H10 Poseidon - to monitor the situation, and to support stability and NATO partners in the region.
- The US Air Force issued a statement on 14 March, in which it was reported that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet damaged an American MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance and strike UAV over the Black Sea during an interception, as a result of which the drone had to be sunk.
- The US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, noted that while Russian intercepts of US aircraft over the Black Sea are not uncommon, Tuesday's episode was unique regarding how "dangerous, unprofessional and reckless" Russia’s actions were.
- The Ministry of Defence of Russia stated on the evening of Tuesday that their Su-27 fighter jets had nothing to do with the crash of the MQ-9 Reaper American UAV in the Black Sea. In addition, they said it approached annexed Crimea and was flying in violation.
- The US Department of Defense, in turn, said it was working to declassify visual information related to the incident in the international airspace over the Black Sea.
- The United States has summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov regarding the collision between the Russian Su-27 and the US Reaper drone.