HomeBreaking NewsAustin says US will continue to fly drones over Black Sea, condemns...

Austin says US will continue to fly drones over Black Sea, condemns Russian shootdown as “aggressive”

(CNN) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed Wednesday that US planes would continue to “fly and operate where permitted by international law,” a day after Russian planes hit an American drone over the Black Sea, forcing it to be sunk in international waters.

“This dangerous episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions in international airspace,” Austin said at the start of a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting. “So make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and operate where international law allows. And it is up to Russia to operate as a military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”

Austin was the first member of the administration’s cabinet to directly address the incident, which occurred Tuesday when two Russian Su-27 jets intercepted a US MQ-9 Reaper drone. President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday.

The downing of the drone marked the first time Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, a Kremlin spokesman said that relations between Moscow and Washington are at their “nadir”. However, the US has yet to announce that it will take any action against Russia over the incident, suggesting that the Biden administration may be trying to prevent things from escalating further.

Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder said Tuesday that the Russian plane flew close to the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before one of the planes struck the MQ-9, prompting the United States to drop the drone into the water.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at a news conference later Wednesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declined to speculate on the Russian motive behind the incident, but called it a “reckless and unsafe action.” .

National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby told “CNN This Morning” on Wednesday that the drone “has not been recovered and I’m not sure we can get it back,” but told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday. that the US took steps “to protect our actions with respect to that particular drone.”

The United States remotely wiped the drone’s sensitive software before it crashed to prevent Russia from collecting secret information, two US officials told CNN.

On Wednesday, Russia made it clear that it will try to recover the remains of the drone.

“I don’t know if we will be able to get it or not, but we have to… And we will definitely look into it,” Russia’s Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Russia’s state television channel Rossiya 1.

The US does not have any Navy ships in the Black Sea, according to a Navy official, which would make any US recovery attempt extremely difficult and time consuming.

The airborne encounter occurred approximately 45 miles southwest of the Crimean peninsula, one of the US officials said. The MQ-9 landed approximately 70 miles southwest of Crimea after flying away from occupied territory, the official added.

Russia has denied the US version of the incident, and Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday that Russia had “informed about this space that was identified as a zone for special military operations.” Antonov also said that the MQ-9 “flew with its transponders turned off, violating temporary airspace limits” and that Russian planes did not come into contact with it.

the kremlin continued his defense on Wednesday, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters to focus on the Defense Ministry’s statement, “which clearly establishes that no weapons were used and there was no physical contact.”

Peskov said US-Russia relations are in a “deplorable state” and at their “nadir”, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin was briefed on the incident.

The US top general is expected to speak with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, a US defense official told CNN.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, is expected to speak by phone with the Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, on Wednesday. The two military leaders have not spoken since late December.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, described the incident as a “signal” of Putin’s “readiness” to expand the conflict zone with the participation of other parties.

“The incident with the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV, provoked by (R)usia in the Black Sea, is (P)utin’s signal that he is ready to expand the conflict zone with the participation of other parties,” he said. . “The all-in tactic is constantly raising rates under conditions of a strategic loss and in the hope that circumstances will change.”

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Katharina Krebs and Jo Shelly contributed reporting.

Source link

- Advertisment -