The pair of pilots who were responsible for taking down a U.S. drone flying out over the Black Sea earlier this past week have now officially been given honors by the Russian government, the country’s Defense Ministry as part of a release issue this past week.
A $32 million U.S. MQ-9 Reaper spy drone ended up being harassed and then knocked out of the sky by Russian pilots, who ended up dumping fuel on it prior to one of the Russian fighter jets intentionally colliding with the propeller of the surveillance drone — resulting in U.S. forces to take the drown down in deep international waters. Sergei Shoigu, the Defense Minister of Russia, openly celebrated the actions of the pilots this past Friday, making the claim that they stopped the drone from moving out into airspace which was allegedly claimed by Russia, as reported by the Associated Press.
U.S. Airforce officials recently released camera footage of the entire incident late last week which highlighted a Russian Su-27 flying dangerously close to the U.S. drone. The footage revealed as well damage being done to the drone’s propeller after the Russian jets flew next to it.
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) March 16, 2023
“Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with a U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft operating within international airspace over the Black Sea on March 14, 2023,” explained U.S. European Command in a recent release. “Russian Su-27s dumped fuel upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.”
A number of Russian officials have tried to call out the U.S. for allegedly carrying out surveillance flights in order to assist the Ukrainians to target Russian installations, explained an AP report. Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary Russian Security Council alleged that the actions from the American surveillance drone were indisputable proof of escalating hostilities from the U.S. toward Russia throughout the duration of Moscow’s war with Ukraine.
“The Americans keep saying that they are not participating in hostilities,” Patrushev stated as part of a press conference. “This is yet another confirmation that they are directly involved in these events, in the war.”
Officials from the White House labeled the actions from Russia entirely “reckless” but stated that it has not yet been determined if these Russian pilots downed the U.S. drone intentionally.
“Incidents happen,” explained the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley. “And clearly we do not seek armed conflict with Russia and I believe at this point we should investigate this incident and move on from there.”