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Pentagon Addresses Russian Collision With U.S. MQ-9 Drone Over Black Sea

On March 15, the Pentagon held a press briefing, during which its spokesperson addressed a U.S. drone that Russia forced down over the Black Sea, the Associated Press reported.

Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States

During the press briefing, which was scheduled to discuss the AUKUS submarine deal, Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder explained that a U.S. drone was forced down after it collided with Russian fighter jets during routine surveillance over the Black Sea. An official transcript of the press briefing was released by the United States Department of Defense on March 14.

Subsequent reports of the event came from the United States active defense in Europe:

“Two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept with the U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance unmanned MQ-9 aircraft that was operating within international airspace over the Black Sea, March 14, 2023,” wrote the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa from the Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in an official report released by United States European Command.

United States European Command stated that, at approximately 7:03 am (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft “struck the propeller” of the MQ-9 causing U.S. forces to bring the aircraft down in international waters.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander at U.S. Air Forces Europe, and Air Forces Africa, as he was quoted by United States European Command.

“In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash,” Gen. Hecker added.

Russia claimed that the United States MQ-9 drone collided with their jet, The New York Times reported. The incident with the drone-fighter jets collision is reportedly the first physical contact between warcraft between the United States and Russia since the beginning of the most recent Russo-Ukrainian conflict in early 2022.

U.S. Congress members reacted to the events, critically debating the U.S. support of the Ukrainian war effort. Some U.S. lawmakers and politicians do not believe that the Ukraine effort is in the United States' best interest. Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drew criticism when he stated that Ukraine support was not “vital" for the United States.

“With today’s loss of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Black Sea, we are once again reminded of the treacherous reality of our involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war,” tweeted Representative Matt Gaetz on March 14, criticizing the amount of money the U.S. has already "depleted" in its support of the effort.

Progressives, however, have taken a stronger stance. In recent developments, a group of progressives addressed a letter to President Biden calling for a more “aggressive” series of actions to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. However, this letter was retracted due to pushback from fellow Democrats and Ukrainians, NBC News reported.

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