Fastest News Updates around the World

US Warns Russia: We’ll Keep Flying Where International Law Allows


- Advertisement -

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday that US planes will continue to fly “where international law allows,” while the two ministers discussed Tuesday’s incident over the Black Sea, in which Moscow’s planes caused the crash of a US drone.

Washington says a Russian Su-27 cut down the MQ-9, requiring the drone to be shot down in the Black Sea, while Moscow denies responsibility and accuses the US of conducting “enemy” flights in the region.

The Pentagon said in a statement that Austin spoke with Shoigu “about the recent unprofessional, dangerous and reckless behavior of the Russian Air Force in international airspace over the Black Sea.”

He stressed that the United States will continue to fly and operate wherever international law allows.

Russia confirmed the call and said it was initiated by Washington.

The US Secretary of Defense also said in a press conference that “it is imperative for Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”

Maintaining communication with Russia is key, Austin said, after more than a year of the Ukraine War during which direct contact between senior US defense officials and the Russians was scarce.

“We take any potential for escalation very seriously, which is why I think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open,” he said.

“I think it’s really important that we can pick up the phone and interact with each other. And I think that will help prevent misjudgment in the future.”

The wreck ‘no longer has value’

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said along with Austin that he plans to contact his Russian counterpart as well.

The Pentagon is still analyzing video and data from the drone to find out exactly what happened.

“Was it intentional or not? I don’t know yet,” Milley said. “We know the interception was intentional. We know the offensive behavior was intentional, and we also know it was extremely unprofessional and extremely dangerous.”

But as to “the actual contact of the Russian fixed-wing fighter with our drones, the physical contact of these two is not yet certain,” he said, using an acronym for unmanned aerial vehicle.

Moscow said on Wednesday it would try to recover the wreckage. Milley did not explicitly rule out a US recovery effort, but said doing so would be difficult.

“We don’t have any naval surface vessels in the Black Sea at this time,” he said, and the drone likely crashed and sank in an area with water depths of 4,000-5,000 feet (1,200-1,500 metres).

Even if Russia managed to recover the wreckage, the US took “mitigating measures” to protect sensitive information.

“We are absolutely certain that whatever was valuable is no longer valuable,” Milley said.

The United States uses MQ-9s for both surveillance and strikes and has long operated over the Black Sea, monitoring the Russian Navy.

Several drones have gone missing in recent years, including one that US Central Command said was shot down over Yemen by a surface-to-air missile in 2019.

‘American flights are provocative’

For his part, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu told Austin that the flight of American drones off the coast of Crimea is “provocative in nature” and creates “preconditions for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea region.” “

“The main focus was to exchange views on the causes and consequences of the March 14 incident, which saw an American drone crash in the Black Sea,” said a statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense following Shoigu’s phone call. and Austin.

Shoigu said the drone crash was caused by the US’s actions of “non-compliance with the flight restriction zone declared by the Russian Federation” which was established in connection with Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation is not interested in such a development, but it will continue to respond to all provocations in a proportionate manner,” the statement added, adding that the two countries should act “as responsibly as possible, including maintaining military communication channels to discuss any crisis situations.”

Two Russian SU-27s “conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept” of a US MQ-9 Reaper on Tuesday, including dumping fuel on the drone and flying in front of it in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” according to the command. America in Europe.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said earlier on Wednesday that the drone had tried to collect reconnaissance information to pass on to Ukraine for strikes against Russia.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that the US is trying to look for “provocations” to escalate the “confrontational approach”.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More