U.S. releases video of Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on American spy drone
March 16, 2023
The Pentagon has released footage of what it says is a Russian aircraft conducting an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video, released Thursday, shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said.
The U.S. military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea Tuesday after the Russian fighter jet poured fuel on the unmanned aerial vehicle in an apparent attempt to blind its optical instruments and drive it out of the area and then struck its propeller.
The released excerpt does not show events before or after the apparent fuel-dumping confrontation.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the U.S. drone following the encounter with Russian fighter jets.
The calls with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday were the first since October.
What we know and don’t about the U.S. spy drone and Russian jet collision
While intercept attempts are not uncommon, the incident amid the war in Ukraine has raised concerns that it could bring the U.S. and Russia closer to direct conflict.
That the two countries top defense and military leaders were talking so soon after the encounter over the Black Sea underscored its seriousness.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in its report of Shoigu’s call with Austin that Shoigu accused the U.S. of provoking the incident by ignoring flight restrictions that the Kremlin had imposed because of its military operations in Ukraine.
Russia also blamed the intensification of intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation.
Such U.S. actions are fraught with escalation of the situation in the Black Sea area, the Defense Ministry said, warning that Russia will respond in kind to all provocations.