Days after Black Sea drone incident, Pentagon releases de-classified video

Amid the Black Sea drone incident gaining momentum, Pentagon on 16 March released a de-classified video showing Russia’s intercept of a US military surveillance drone downed over the Black Sea two days ago, reported Reuters.

Since the Ukraine war began, it was the first direct US-Russian incident which worsened already tense relations between Washington and Moscow.

According to the video, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet comes very close to the US MQ-9 drone and dumps fuel near it. The US officials claim this was an apparent effort to damage the American aircraft as it flew over the Black Sea.

Apart from this, the video also shows loss of the video feed after another close Russian maneuver, which resulted from the Russian jet’s collision with the drone. Later, images of the drone’s damaged propeller were seen, which made the aircraft inoperable after collision.

The video, about 40 seconds long, has been edited by the U.S. military for length but shows events in a sequential order, the Pentagon said.

Meanwhile, Russia has denied U.S. accusations that its jets acted recklessly in the incident on Tuesday over the Black Sea. Instead it has blamed ‘sharp maneuvering’ by the drone for the crash, claiming its jet did not make contact.

Citing the depth of water in the region, Washington has said that any recovery efforts relating to the drone would be difficult. It said it has taken measures to ensure that no sensitive information can be gleaned from the remains of the drone.

The release of the video followed separate calls on Wednesday between the top U.S. general, Mark Milley, and his Russian counterpart, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, as well as between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

In remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Milley said it was clear that the intercept and harassment of the drone by Russian jets was intentional, but it was unclear whether the Russian pilots meant to slam their aircraft into the drone — a move that could also put the Russian aircraft at risk.

With Reuters inputs.

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