US Shows Russian Jet Footage in Black Sea Drone Encounter

    US Shows Russian Jet Footage in Black Sea Drone Encounter
    Last updated Mar 16, 2023
    Image credit: US European Command [via CNN]


    • On Thursday, the US European Command released declassified video footage from the encounter between a US surveillance drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea earlier in the week.[1]
    • The 42-second clip — part of an encounter that the Pentagon said lasted between 30 and 40 minutes — shows a Russian Su-27 jet approach the back of the US MQ-9 Reaper drone before dumping fuel as it passes over. In another portion of the clip, a Russian jet repeats the action, this time closer to the drone and seemingly disrupting the video transmission. Once video returns, damage can be seen to the drone's propeller, supporting the US case that there was contact between the two aircrafts.[2]
    • The incident caused the drone to crash in the Black Sea and prompted a call between US Defense Sec. Austin Lloyd and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday — their first contact since last October. In a briefing after the meeting, Lloyd said: "We take any potential for escalation very seriously. And that’s why I believe it’s important to keep the lines of communication open."[3]
    • According to US officials who spoke to CNN, Russia had already reached the crash site in an attempt to recover the drone for intelligence gathering. The US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby would not confirm the development, but said the US had taken action that, "made it impossible for them to be able to glean anything of intelligence value off the remnants of that drone."[2]
    • Elsewhere, a large fire was reported at the offices of Russia's intelligence and security service, the FSB, in the city of Rostov-on-Don on Thursday. Dozens of fires have taken place at shopping malls, ammunition depots, and other storage facilities inside Russia in the past year — a report from investigative journalist Jack Murphy, citing US officials, has suggested these were coordinated by the CIA as part of a covert sabotage campaign.[4]
    • Meanwhile, Poland announced the first details of its intentions to send MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine on Thursday, with government spokesperson Piotr Muller saying: "We will keep the Russian front from out borders at all times." It came shortly after the nation's defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak stated that his country's counterintelligence service had "dismantled" a Russian spy ring operating within Poland.[5]
    • On the ground, Ukrainian officials said one civilian was killed and 11 more were injured in Russian attacks on the Donetsk region in the past day. Three civilians were reported injured in the Kherson region, while Russian attacks were also recorded in the regions of Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhia without further reports of civilian casualties. Pro-Russia officials said four civilians were injured in Ukrainian attacks on Donetsk over the same time period.[6]


    Pro-Russia narrative

    This collision over the Black Sea happened because the West has repeatedly refused to take action to avert dangerous mid-air incidents. Despite the attempts of numerous Russian delegations to address the potential for risky proximity between aircraft — especially around the borders of the alliance and Russia — western countries have pointedly ignored the warnings. The US purposely flew into this restricted zone, but Russian fighter jets avoided escalating the situation by refusing to engage their weapons.

    Anti-Russia narrative

    The Russian fighter pilots deliberately made a US drone unflyable by recklessly crashing into the MQ-9. The aggressive actions taken against the drone — which was merely carrying out routine operations in the airspace — forced US officials to deliberately crash the object. Moscow's denial of any culpability in this incident is ludicrous.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 10% chance that there will be more than 4 deaths between Russia and NATO forces outside of Ukraine before July 1, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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