US president Biden was briefed about the incident amid heightened tensions between the two countries
A Russian warplane collided with a US surveillance drone over the Black Sea on March 14, forcing it down in international waters.
US European Command confirmed that the incident involved an MQ-9 Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 fighter jets, accusing Russian forces of carelessness leading up to the crash.
“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” a US European Command spokesperson said in a written statement.
Although there has been no official reaction by the Russian government, Russian state media reported on the incident.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said that president Joe Biden had been briefed about the collision. Kirby added that it is “not uncommon” for Russian aircraft to intercept US aircraft over the Black Sea, but he said this incident was “noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was.”
The US has routinely sent drones into international airspace over the Black Sea since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. The National Security Council said it does not consider it necessary to advise Russia in advance of such flights.
Tensions between Russia and the US have grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which US vice president Kamala Harris has called a crime against humanity. Last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced he was suspending Russia’s last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the US.
The fraught waters of the Black Sea
Control over the Black Sea has been a major source of tension since Russia’s invasion, with the two warring countries on one side and NATO-allied nations Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey on the other.
For the past year, Ukrainian ports have been blockaded by the Russian navy, cutting off a main source of military and humanitarian aid to the country.
In response, Ukraine has often attacked Russian ships with Neptune anti-ship missiles, sinking the Moskva—the Russian Navy’s flagship battleship in its Black Sea fleet—last April. It was the largest Russian warship to be sunk since World War II.
Due to the blockade, Ukraine has only been able to export grain from its port cities after it and Russia signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a United Nations–backed deal meant to stop a global wheat shortage. Source: Quartz