On Tuesday, March 14, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet bashed into the propeller of a United States surveillance drone, forcing the unmanned drone to be brought down by its operators. This is reported to be intentional according to a statement from the US European Command. The jet is said to have flown in front of the American drone multiple times, dumping fuel on it and flying near it for over 30 minutes before its collision with the drone. This is the first known time that the United States and Russia have had physical contact with one another as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
As of recently, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a statement. “The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards.” Russia continues to uphold this statement. A CNN correspondent interviewed Russian Ambassador for the US Anatoly Antonov. “We prefer not to create a situation where we can face unintended clashes or unintended incidents between the Russian Federation and the United States,” Antonov expressed to CNN.
Footage has newly been released by the pentagon recovered from the drone, showing the moment when the Russian jet dumped fuel onto the drone, which led to the drone’s camera being disconnected from its operators. Russia is attempting to recover the drone, possibly in an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating, according to the Russian Secretary of Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. “I don’t know if we will be able to get it or not, but we need to do it… And we will definitely look into it,” stated Patrushev. According to CNN, “The drone came down in international waters in the Black Sea approximately 70 miles southwest of Crimea, one of the officials said. It is unclear if Russia was able to recover any of the wreckage from the drone when they arrived at the crash site.” Some US officials worry that the drone may fall into the wrong hands,
Despite both governments claiming to have been working on de-escalating the situation and preventing another one of similar circumstances to occur, the question of whether this will lead to more physical encounters between Russia and the United States’ militaries still stands. Tensions have been intensifying between the two nations as the invasion of Ukraine continues, which has many people wondering if this will be the first of many encounters with Russia.