US drone flights over the Black Sea are a sign of direct US involvement in the conflict with Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.
Last week, a US drone crashed into the sea after being intercepted by Russian Su-27 fighter jets in the first known direct military encounter between the two sides since Russia launched its war in Ukraine last year.
“It is quite obvious what these drones are doing, and their mission is by no means a peaceful mission to ensure the safety of shipping in international waters,” the Interfax news agency quoted Peskov as saying in a television interview.
“And in fact, we are talking about the direct involvement of the operators of these drones in the conflict, and against us.”
The United States said Russian planes harassed the drone in Tuesday’s incident and sprayed fuel on it before one of them severed its propeller and caused it to crash while conducting a reconnaissance mission in international airspace. Russia said the drone violated airspace restrictions and lost control after swerving.
Russia’s defense ministry handed out awards to the airmen involved, responding to US accusations that the incident showed recklessness and possible incompetence on the part of the pilots.
Moscow says the US and its allies are using Ukraine to wage war and inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. Washington says he is helping Ukraine defend against an unprovoked Russian invasion.