‘Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows’: US Warns Russia After Drone Shot Down

US aircraft will continue to fly and operate wherever international laws allow, said Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday after a Russian Su-27 fighter jet shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone on Tuesday, causing it to crash into the Black Sea, reported CNN. 

“This hazardous episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, and risky, and unsafe actions in international airspace,” Austin said at the beginning of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. “So make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows. And it is incumbent upon Russia to operate as military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”

The Defence Secretary was the first cabinet member in the Biden administration to directly address the incident while national security advisor Jake Sullivan had briefed Joe Biden on the incident on Tuesday.

‘Rare Telephonic Conversation’ Between Russia, US Military Chiefs 

Following the mid-air clash, being the first time when Russian and US military aircraft have directly come into physical contact, the military chiefs of both countries held a “rare telephonic conversation” as per Reuters.   

Russian foreign minister Sergei Shoigu told his US counterpart Lloyd Austin that American drone flights by Crimea’s coast “were provocative in nature” and could lead to “an escalation … in the Black Sea zone,” a ministry statement said, stated the Reuters report. 

According to CNN, a Kremlin spokesperson said on Wednesday that the relations between the two countries were at their “lowest point”. While Moscow has warned of an escalation, the Biden administration has not yet announced any action against Russia suggesting that it may be looking to avoid any further tensions in the matter. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday at the news briefing that the US does “not seek armed conflict with Russia, and I believe that at this point, we should investigate this incident and move on from there.”

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