A statement from the U.S. European Command late on Tuesday said two Russian Su-27 jet fighters had intercepted a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea.
The statement claimed the drone, of the same model used in armed attacks on civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was on an “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” mission over “international waters.”
It alleged that the Russian planes buzzed the drone, dumped fuel in its path, and finally clipped its rear-mounted propeller, causing it to crash into the sea.
Mark Sleboda told Sputnik on Tuesday that the U.S. military’s protests over the incident glossed over the drone’s offensive role.
“There’s a big question of what the U.S. is doing flying a Reaper drone in the Black Sea, which is a combat drone,” Sleboda pointed out. “It is not an air intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platform.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense said the Reaper was detected near the Crimean Peninsula, which voted to reunite with Russia in 2014 after the Euromaidan coup d’etat in Ukraine.
The drone was flying “in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation” with its identification transponders turned off, the MoD said, “violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation.” It said the unmanned combat air vehicle lost control and crashed after making radical maneuvers.
“The Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield,” the ministry clarified.
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