WATCH: Pentagon video shows Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on US surveillance drone

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Pentagon released video on Thursday of what it said was a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone before the warplane cut the drone’s propeller into international airspace, leading to its crash in the Black Sea and increasing tensions between Moscow and Washington over the war in Ukraine.

Poland, meanwhile, said it was giving Ukraine a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets, becoming the first NATO member to respond to Kiev’s increasingly urgent demands for of fighter planes.

SHOW: Defense Secretary Austin General Milley says the United States has reconnected with Russia to discuss a drone

Declassified 42-second color footage from the US military shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the rear of the MQ-9 Reaper drone and releasing fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said. The fuel dump appeared to be aimed at blinding the drone’s optical instruments to flush it out of the area.

During a second approach, the same plane or another Russian fighter following the MQ-9 hit the drone’s propeller, damaging a blade, according to the US military, which said it later abandoned the unmanned plane in the sea.

The video clip released by the Pentagon does not show events before or after the apparent fuel spill confrontation and does not show the Russian warplane hitting the drone.

Russia said its fighters did not hit the drone and claimed the unmanned aerial vehicle crashed after performing a sudden maneuver.

Asked on Thursday whether Russia would try to recover the wreckage of the drone, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the decision was up to the military. “If they deem it necessary to do it in the Black Sea for the sake of our interests and our security, they will do it,” he said. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, said on Wednesday that an attempt would be made.

US officials said they were confident that nothing of military value would be left from the drone even if Russia managed to recover the wreckage. They have left open the possibility of trying to recover parts of the $32 million downed plane, which they say crashed in water 4,000 to 5,000 feet (1,200 to 1,500) deep. meters), although the United States has no ships in the area.

Russia and NATO member countries routinely intercept their respective warplanes, but the drone incident marked the first time since the Cold War that a US aircraft has been downed during such a confrontation, which raises fears that it will bring the United States and Russia closer to a direct conflict.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed concerns about US intelligence flights near the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 and illegally annexed.

Senior US and Russian defense and military officials spoke on the downing of the drone on Wednesday, underscoring the seriousness of the event.

Calls between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, as well as between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley and General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of State -Russian General Major, were the first since October.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in its report on the call with Austin that Shoigu accused the United States of instigating the incident by ignoring flight restrictions imposed by the Kremlin due to its military operations in Ukraine. .

The Kremlin argues that by supplying arms to Ukraine and sharing intelligence information with Kiev, the United States and its allies have effectively engaged in the war, which is now in its 13th month.

Such US actions “result in an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea region”, the Defense Ministry said, warning that Moscow “will respond equally to all provocations”.

The MQ-9, which has a wingspan of 66 feet (20 meters), includes a ground control station and satellite equipment. It is capable of carrying ammunition, but Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, would not say if the abandoned drone was armed.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Warsaw would give Ukraine four Soviet-made MiG-29s “in the next few days” and the rest needed maintenance and would be delivered later. The Polish word he used to describe the total number of combat aircraft could mean between 11 and 19.

“They are in the final years of operation but they are in good working order,” Duda added. He did not say whether other countries would follow, although Slovakia said it would send its decommissioned MiGs to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said other countries with MiGs had also promised them to Kyiv, but he did not identify them.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for Western partisans to share fighter jets, NATO allies have expressed hesitation.

LEARN MORE: As drones hit Russia, Putin orders officials to reinforce Ukraine-Russia border

Before Russia’s large-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s it inherited when the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, but it’s unclear how many of them remain in service after more than a year of fighting.

The debate over whether to supply non-NATO Ukraine with fighter jets was launched more than a year ago, but the military alliance has been wary of anything that could worsen the war.

Duda said the Polish Air Force would replace the planes it donates to Ukraine with South Korean-made FA-50 fighters and American-made F-35s.
Poland was also the first NATO country to donate German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine last month.

A crucial ally of Kiev, Poland is also hosting thousands of American troops and taking in more people fleeing war in the neighboring country than any other country, amid the biggest European refugee crisis in decades.

It has endured invasions and occupations by Russia for centuries and still fears Russia despite being a member of NATO.

Warsaw authorities also said on Thursday that security services arrested members of a Russian spy ring, alleging they were plotting acts of sabotage in Poland and monitoring train tracks used to transport weapons to Russia. Ukraine.

Hazell contributed from Washington.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button