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Drone crash: USA: “Do not want an armed conflict with Russia”

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There are different accounts of the incident over the Black Sea. Washington is now considering using images to refute Moscow’s statements – and insists on communication.

After the crash of an unmanned US military drone over the Black Sea, the US government may want to release footage of the incident. “We’re still reviewing videos and photos to see what we can release,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in Washington yesterday (local time).

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The US could use the material to substantiate its claim that a Russian fighter jet rammed an American military drone in the incident. The Russians had denied any responsibility for the crash and accused the Americans of provocation.

Accusation of “reckless” action

According to US information, the drone collided with a Russian fighter jet in international airspace over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The US military said two Russian fighter jets had begun an intercept maneuver. One of the fighter jets hit the propeller of the US drone. The USA complained that the Russian pilots acted “unprofessionally”, “unsafely” and “recklessly”.

“We have video evidence of all of this,” said US Chief of Staff Mark Milley. When asked if the Russian pilots acted on purpose, he said the intercept maneuver and aggressive action were done on purpose by the Russian side. It remains to be seen whether the fighter jet intentionally hit the drone and forced it to the ground.

Opposite account from Moscow

Moscow presents the incident very differently and denied any responsibility. The Russian fighter planes did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle. They went up to identify an unknown intruder over the Black Sea. The on-board radio was switched off and the drone set a course for the Russian border. During a sharp evasive maneuver, she rapidly lost height and fell.

Russia’s military accused the US of provocation. In a phone call with his US colleague on Wednesday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu pointed out that the US had not observed airspace closures in connection with the Ukraine war, the ministry said in Moscow. In addition, the United States had increased its reconnaissance activities towards Russia. This is the reason for the incident. “It was emphasized that flights of US strategic drones on the Crimean coast are of a provocative nature,” the statement said.

keep communication open

Austin did not comment on details of the call, but made it clear that the United States would continue to fly and operate where international law allows. It is important to keep communication with Russia open. Milley stressed that the US did not want an escalation. “Incidents happen. And we clearly don’t want an armed conflict with Russia,” he said. He was responding to the question of whether the incident was an act of war.

Russia wants to try to recover the rubble to reveal what Washington actually intended to do with the drone mission. The US chief of staff emphasized that the crashed US military drone was probably no longer of any value. The drone is US property and there is “probably not much to salvage”. With regard to the information collected by the drone, the USA had taken “damage limitation measures, as is usual in such cases”.

Salvage is complicated

The drone is probably in about 1200 to 1500 meters of water depth, you know the place, said Milley. At this depth, the rescue is “very difficult for everyone”. The US itself had no ships there. “But we have many allies and friends in the region who will help with the salvage work.”

Disclosure of the material may follow a pattern Americans have seen in recent months. With a view to the Ukraine conflict, the US government has time and again released and declassified secret service information in order to refute Russia’s claims.

In view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the situation is particularly tense and there are great fears that the USA and Russia could get into a direct military confrontation.

Source: Stern

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