The Pentagon has released footage of what it says was a Russian aircraft pouring fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone and clipping its propeller in international air space over the Black Sea.
The 42-second video shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said, apparently aimed at blinding its optical instruments and driving it out of the area.
On a second approach, either the same jet or another Russian fighter struck the drone’s propeller, damaging one blade, according to the US military.
The military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea after what it said was an unsafe intercept of the unmanned aerial vehicle.
The released excerpt does not show events before or after the apparent fuel-dumping confrontation.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the drone.
The calls with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday 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 US and Russia closer to direct conflict.
The Russian Defence Ministry said in its report of the call with Mr Austin that Mr Shoigu accused the US of provoking the incident by ignoring flight restrictions the Kremlin had imposed because of its military operations in Ukraine.
Moscow also blamed “the intensification of intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation”.
Such US actions “are fraught with escalation of the situation in the Black Sea area”, the Defence Ministry said, warning that Russia “will respond in kind to all provocations”.
Published: by Radio NewsHub