Hours after the US alleged that a Russian jet caused the loss of its spy drone over the Black Sea, the latter accused the US of using its drones to collect reconnaissance data to be used by Ukrainian forces for future strikes inside Russia.
The allegations were made by Russia’s ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday, March 15. He also warned that Russia does “perceive any actions involving the use of American weapons and military equipment as openly hostile,” TASS reported.
Antonov was responding to claims made by the US on Tuesday, that a Russian jet had deliberately collided with one of its spy drones over the Black Sea, leading to it crashing in the water and being lost. Antonov denied there was any contact between the Russian jet and the US drone.
A press statement issued by the US Defense Department had said that “a Russian Su-27 aircraft struck a U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle’s propeller, causing US forces to bring it down into international waters of the Black Sea.”
The statement quotes US Air Force General James B. Hecker, commander of the US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, who said, “these aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
However, as per TASS, the Russian Defense Ministry denied the US allegations and said that the drone was flying over the Black Sea illegally, with its transponders off, and in violation of the airspace boundaries established for the war in Ukraine.
The Russians also claimed that following abrupt maneuvering, the drone “went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface,” TASS reported.
The US had summoned Antonov after news of the drone loss on Tuesday. After his meeting with the US State Department, Antonov rejected the allegations of Russian aggression. He also asserted that Crimea is a part of the Russian Federation, whether the US accepts it or not, and that the US should not provoke the Russian navy and air force by sending drones into its territories.
On Wednesday, Antonov also raised the issue of the US supply of over US$ 33 billion worth of weapons to Kiev. “Just think about this number! It is absolutely clear that it is the United States that is leading the situation to a deliberate escalation fraught with a direct armed conflict,” he said.