The United States has resumed surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea region after Tuesday’s interception of a Russian fighter jet that led to the downing of a US surveillance drone, two US officials said on Friday.
An RQ-4 Global Hawk flew a mission to the region on Friday, the officials said, with one adding that it was the first flight of such a drone since Tuesday’s incident. Pentagon officials have repeatedly stressed this week that the incident will not stop Washington from conducting such missions.
Still, Tuesday’s downing of a US MQ-9 drone was the first direct US-Russian incident since the start of the Ukraine war, worsening already strained relations between Washington and Moscow as the two countries publicly traded blame.
Russia has denied US allegations that its two Su-24 fighter jets acted recklessly around the unmanned US aircraft, instead blaming the crash on “sharp manoeuvring” by the drone.
However, the Pentagon released video on Thursday showing a Russian Su-27 fighter jet getting very close to the drone and dumping fuel near it, in what US officials said was an apparent attempt to damage the US aircraft in flight.
It also appeared that a video signal was lost after another nearby Russian maneuver, which the Pentagon said was the result of a Russian plane colliding with a drone.
The video ends with images of the drone’s damaged propeller, which the Pentagon says was caused by the crash, which rendered the aircraft inoperable and led to the crash into deep water.
The incident over international waters was a reminder of the risk of a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia over Ukraine, which Moscow invaded more than a year ago and which Western allies have backed with intelligence and weapons.
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