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Biden Admin Responds After Russia Downs U.S. Drone Over International Waters

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Biden administration has responded after a Russian fighter jet downed an American drone in international waters earlier this week.

According to two US officials, the US has recommenced surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea area after the incident on Tuesday, Reuters reported. On Friday, an RQ-4 Global Hawk conducted a mission in the region, marking the first drone flight since the incident. Pentagon officials have reiterated this week that it would not deter the US from continuing such missions.

However, the destruction of a US MQ-9 drone on Tuesday marked the initial direct confrontation between the US and Russia since the commencement of the Ukraine war, further exacerbating the already strained relationship between Washington and Moscow. Both countries blamed the other for the incident.

Russia has rejected the US allegations that two of its Su-24 fighter jets exhibited reckless behavior around the unmanned US aircraft, and instead has accused the drone of performing “sharp maneuvering” that caused the crash.

Nevertheless, on Thursday, the Pentagon unveiled a video showing a Russian Su-27 fighter jet coming dangerously close to the drone and releasing fuel near it, which US officials interpreted as a deliberate attempt to harm the American aircraft while it was in flight.

The video also documented the loss of the video feed following another Russian aircraft’s close maneuver, which, according to the Pentagon, was the outcome of the aircraft colliding with the drone. The footage concludes by displaying images of the drone’s damaged propeller, which, according to the Pentagon, resulted from the collision, rendering the aircraft inoperative and causing it to crash into deep waters.

The event over international waters served as a reminder of the potential danger of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia concerning Ukraine, which Russia invaded over a year ago and which Western allies have provided with intelligence and weaponry, Reuters noted.

On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes. However, the likelihood of Putin actually facing trial is minimal, but his most ardent advocates in Russia, specifically state-controlled media propagandists, may now have a cause for concern, Newsweek noted.

According to reports, Hague investigators spent more than a year gathering evidence against Putin before the ICC issued an arrest warrant accusing the Russian President of being “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.