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US drones change routes over Black Sea after collision with Russian aircraft

Wednesday, 22 March 2023, 04:15
US drones change routes over Black Sea after collision with Russian aircraft

After a collision between a US MQ-9 Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 jets, US drones continue to fly over the Black Sea, but they have changed their routes, moving away from Crimea.

Source: CNN with reference to US officials

Details: According to CNN, the drone flights have remained in international airspace, but the US has moved its drone flights further away from airspace surrounding the Crimean peninsula and eastern portions of the Black Sea.


One of the US officials told CNN that the routes are part of an effort to avoid provocations, as the Biden administration remains careful to avoid an incident that could potentially escalate into a direct conflict between US and Russian forces.

The official said the drone flights would continue this way, but the US wants to return to the routes closer to Russian-held territory. 

The officials also said Russia may try to unilaterally declare a broader closure of airspace around southern and eastern Ukraine in an attempt to force US drone flights further out.  


CNN noted that Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder confirmed that the US was continuing to operate drones in the Black Sea area, but he declined to say whether the US had changed its routes.

"I’m not going to, for operational security reasons, not going to get into the specifics of routes, missions, timelines, things like that," Ryder said.


  • The US Air Force issued a statement on 14 March, in which it was reported that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet had 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, the episode on 14 March was unique in how "dangerous, unprofessional and reckless" Russia’s actions were.
  • The Ministry of Defence of Russia stated on the evening of 14 March 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 had 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 US military posted a video of the Russian Su-27 fighter jet attacking the MQ-9 Reaper American UAV over the Black Sea.
  • CNN previously reported that the US is conducting an assessment of its drone operations in the Black Sea area following the incident. It is taking a close look at UAV routes and assessing how to reduce the risks of conflicts with Russian forces in the region.

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