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The U.S. military says a Russian fighter plane clipped the propeller of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, forcing it to crash in the Black Sea.
It’s one of the most serious incidents involving U.S. and Russian militaries in the volatile region in and around Ukraine.
The U.S. military says two Russian fighter jets carried out a “reckless” intercept of the American drone, which was flying in international air space over the Black Sea.
The Russian jets initially flew in front of the American drone several times and dumped fuel on it.
Eventually, one of the Russian planes clipped the propeller of the drone, causing it to crash, the military said.
The U.S. said this was part of a pattern of “dangerous actions by Russian pilots.”
President Biden was briefed on the collision earlier this morning, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“It is not uncommon … for there to be intercepts by Russian aircraft of U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea, so this is not an uncommon occurrence,” Kirby said, noting there have been such intercepts in recent weeks.
But Kirby said this one was “noteworthy” because of how “unsafe” and “reckless” it was, in that it caused the downing of a U.S. aircraft.
The U.S. State Department says it had engaged at high levels with allies and partners to brief them on this incident. They are also summoning the Russian ambassador to the State Department to voice their objections, and the U.S. ambassador to Moscow has conveyed a message to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The U.S. military has not been directly involved in the war in Ukraine, but does conduct constant surveillance flights over nearby countries and in international air space.