US drone downing: Conflict in the Black Sea is unavoidable until Russia leaves – Ukraine minister

Incidents like the downing of a US drone over the Black Sea are unavoidable until Russia leaves Crimea, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.

On Tuesday, the large MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed into water. The explanations offered by the United States and Russia differ.

According to the US, the damaged drone became “unflyable” after a Russian jet clipped its propeller.

However, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that he does not anticipate any diplomatic escalation.

Describing it as a “routine incident”, Mr Kuleba told the BBC: “As long as Russia controls Crimea, these kinds of incidents will be inevitable and the Black Sea will not be a safe place.

“The only way to avoid such incidents is to kick Russia out of Crimea.”

The key question is whether Russia’s encounter was an attempt to disrupt the US drone or a deliberate attempt to bring it down.

According to US military officials, the incident occurred on Tuesday morning and lasted approximately 30-40 minutes.

The Russian jets dumped fuel on the drone several times before the collision in a “reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional manner,” the US said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Pat Ryder, the drone was “unflyable and uncontrollable, so we brought it down,” and the collision likely damaged the Russian aircraft.

Russia has denied any contact between its two Su-27 fighter jets and the US drone.

The drone crashed after a “sharp maneuver,” according to Russia’s defense ministry, and it was flying with its transponders (communication devices) turned off.

Since Russia’s annexation of nearby Crimea in 2014, tensions have risen over the Black Sea.

Since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom have increased surveillance flights, always operating in international airspace.
The BBC asked Mr Kuleba if the US and its allies would be more cautious in the aftermath of the drone incident.

“If the West wants to demonstrate its weakness, it should certainly demonstrate its caution in the aftermath of an incident like this,” he responded.

“The mood is not to escalate, but it is also not to yield to Russia’s pressure, whether physical or rhetorical.”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged that the military would “continue to fly and operate” wherever international law permitted.

“It is incumbent upon Russia to operate its aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” he told the Ukraine contact group.

The US drone crash is a potentially hazardous situation.
After being summoned to speak with officials in Washington, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov stated that the drone incident was viewed as a “provocation” by Moscow.

According to Mr Antonov, “the unacceptable activity of the US military in close proximity to our borders is a cause for concern.”

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, there has been no high-level contact between Moscow and Washington regarding the incident.

He did, however, state that Russia would never refuse to engage in constructive dialogue.

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