Kyiv, March 16
The Pentagon on Thursday released footage of what it said was a Russian aircraft pouring fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone and clipping the drone’s propeller in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said.
On a second approach, either the same jet or another Russian fighter that had been shadowing the MQ-9 struck the drone’s propeller, damaging one blade, according to the US military.
The US military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea after what it described as the Russian fighter making an unsafe intercept of the unmanned aerial vehicle.
The video excerpt released by the Pentagon does not show events before or after the apparent fuel-dumping confrontation. Russia said its warplanes didn’t strike the drone and claimed the unmanned aerial vehicle went down after making a sharp maneuver over the sea.
The top US and Russian defense and military leaders spoke on Wednesday about the encounter. The calls between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Mark Milley, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russian General Staff, were the first since October. — AP
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