The Department of Defense has released footage of a Russian jet’s actions before it smacked into a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, a collision Russia’s ambassador to the United States says never happened.
The footage was posted to YouTube by U.S. European Military Command. A news release from EUCOM stated the incident took place about 7 a.m. Tuesday Central European Time (about 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time) when two Russian Su-27 aircraft “conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept” with an Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance MQ-9 Reaper drone.
“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,” the release stated.
The video shows the plane dumping fuel on the drone, and then coming close to the drone from behind. The video then shows the propeller of the drone damaged.
The Russian pilots’ actions downed the aircraft, forcing drone U.S. operators to crash it into international waters. According to CNN, the drone’s software was wiped before it hit the water.
A senior Biden administration official said the footage “absolutely confirms” the collision, but does not show intent. However, CNN reported that its sources said Russia’s Ministry of Defense ordered pilots to harass a drone over the Black Sea.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense has explained in detail the reasons and course of actions of Russian pilots during yesterday’s incident over the Black Sea. I repeat, for those who have not gathered themselves to look at the situation objectively: Our fighters did not come into contact with the American UAV,” he said.
“Of course, it is a shame for the Pentagon to lose expensive piece of equipment. But in this case, the U.S. military should redirect accusations of unprofessional actions back to themselves,” he said.
Antonov also scolded Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who in an appearance on the Fox News program “Hannity” on Tuesday night told host Sean Hannity that the message sent to Russia after the incident should be: “If you ever get near another U.S. asset flying in international waters, your airplane will be shot down.”
“What would Ronald Reagan do right now? He would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets. American foreign policy is in freefall,” Graham said.
Antonov said Graham’s comment “is by no means the first attempt by the notorious lawmaker to provoke a dangerous escalation in the U.S.-Russian relations,” according to Newsweek.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the U.S. would be unlikely to recover the drone. CNN reported that “Moscow had made clear it would attempt to retrieve the wreckage of the drone, and two officials told CNN Wednesday that Russia had reached the MQ-9 crash site in the Black Sea.”
Kirby said he doubted Russia would get much of value from such pieces of the drone as it might recover, according to CNN.
The incident left Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota fuming.
“They shot down a United States warplane. They took it out of action, ” Rounds said, according to Fox News.
“And the bottom line is, is we cannot allow that to happen. This is a case of where our allies and our adversaries should understand that we’re not putting up with this,” he said.
“I think we’re probably going to have to have a little bit stronger discussion about how serious this is. You do not take out our aircraft. That is something that is absolutely a violation of international norms, if nothing else, and in this particular case, more has to come,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.