The Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday said that US drone MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle detected flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula violated the boundaries of the area of the temporary airspace regime established during the special operation.
"On 14 March 2023 in the morning, the Russian airspace control systems detected an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation," read the Russian Defence Ministry statement.
The Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 aircraft were flying over international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when one of the Russian jets intentionally flew in front of and dumped fuel on the unmanned drone several times, a statement from US European Command said.
According to the ministry, following abrupt maneuvering the drone "went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface."
"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," it added.
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.
MQ-9 Reaper is a modular reconnaissance and strikes unmanned aerial vehicle developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. It is equipped with a turboprop engine and can develop a speed of more than 400 kilometers per hour. The maximal flight duration is 24 hours. The drone is capable of carrying air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, and laser-guided bombs.
Meanwhile, the US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to convey "our strong objections", department spokesman Ned Price, reported CNN.
Price also stated that US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy "has conveyed a strong message to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
This incident is seen as the first time when Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine.
The incident is likely to increase tensions between the two nations, with the US calling Russia's actions "reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional."
President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday morning, according to National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby, reported CNN.
Defence Department officials "have not spoken specifically to Russian authorities" on the incident, Ryder said.
Price said separately that the US has "engaged at high levels with our allies and partners" to brief them on the incident. He added that the US was "not in a position to speak to what the Russians intended to do" with the maneuvers, but that ultimately the intent mattered less than "what actually transpired." (ANI)