The Pentagon has released footage of what it says is a Russian aircraft conducting an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video, released on March 16, shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said.
The U.S. military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea on March 14 after the Russian fighter jet poured fuel on the unmanned aerial vehicle and then struck its propeller.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the U.S. drone following the encounter with Russian fighter jets.
The calls with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov on March 15 were the first since October.
While intercept attempts are not uncommon, the incident amid the war in Ukraine has raised concerns it could bring the United States and Russia closer to direct conflict.
That the two countries’ top defense and military leaders were talking so soon after the encounter over the Black Sea underscored its seriousness.