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Pentagon releases declassified video of Black Sea drone incident

Pentagon has published a declassified video of Russia intercepting a U.S. military surveillance drone that was downed over the Black Sea on March 14. The footage shows the Su-27 fighter jet approaching the U.S. MQ-9 drone and drops fuel near it, according to U.S. sources, in an apparent attempt to harm the American aircraft cruising over the Black Sea.

The Pentagon’s European Command published a video showing the events resulting in the downing of a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Black Sea on March 14.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 16, 2023

Russia has denied that its jets were careless in the incident over the Black Sea on Tuesday, instead blaming “sharp maneuvering” by the drone for the disaster, maintaining that its jet did not make contact.

According to the Pentagon, the video, which is around 40 seconds long, has been altered for length but shows events in chronological order.

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That was the first direct U.S.- Russian encounter since the start of the Ukraine war, escalating already strained relations between Washington and Moscow.

It also shows the loss of the video feed following another close Russian maneuver, which the Pentagon claims was caused by the Russian plane colliding with the drone. It concludes with photographs of the drone’s damaged propeller, which the Pentagon claims was caused by the accident and rendered the aircraft useless.

The incident in international waters was another reminder of the danger of direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine, which Moscow invaded more than a year ago and which Western allies have supported with intelligence and weaponry.

The video was released following separate calls on Wednesday between U.S. General Mark Milley and his Russian counterpart, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, as well as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

U.S. General Mark Milley told reporters on Wednesday that the interception and interference with the drone course was evident, but it was unclear whether the Russian pilots intended to smash their aircraft into the drone, which may also endanger the Russian aircraft.

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