A US military surveillance drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after an encounter with Russian Su-27 fighter jets in international airspace near territory Russia claims to have annexed from Ukraine.
Moscow warned Washington on Wednesday against violating its territorial waters and airspace. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US was “ignoring” the fact that Russia had established airspace restrictions in the Black Sea region after it launched its invasion of Ukraine.
The US and Russian offered different versions of events diverging over the cause of the drone’s crash. The US maintains that a Russian Su-27 jet clipped the propeller of the drone which led to the crash; while Russia denies any physical contact between its jets and the drone, and says, “the device went out of control as a result of sharp maneuvering,” then crashed.
Price said: “”I think the best assessment right now is that it probably was unintentional. It probably was the result of profound incompetence on the part of one of these Russian pilots.”
He added: “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence, in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to discuss the drone incident, the first such high level communication in over five months.
Austin discussed the “unprofessional, dangerous, and reckless behavior” of Russian pilots in international space, and stressed that the US “will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.”
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