© Reuters. Interrupted signal glitch obscures footage during an intercept by a Russian Su-27 military aircraft recorded by a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, March 14, 2023 in this still image taken from handout video released by the Pentagon. Co
By Phil Stewart and Mike Collett-White
WASHINGTON/NEAR BAKHMUT, Ukraine (Reuters) – The Pentagon released a video on Thursday that it said provided evidence a Russian fighter jet clipped the propeller of a U.S. spy drone and caused it to crash into the Black Sea this week, despite Russia’s denial.
The 40-second-long video was filmed by the MQ-9 Reaper drone as it conducted regular reconnaissance in international airspace two days ago near Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula Moscow forcibly annexed in 2014.
The video showed what the Pentagon said were two Russian Su-27 fighter jets swooping toward the drone and releasing jet fuel on it in harassing behaviour. After a second pass by the jets, the video cuts out then resumes with images of the drone’s damaged propeller.
U.S. officials have accused the Russian jets of acting in an unsafe manner. Russia has denied any collision took place and said the drone went down after making “sharp manoeuvres”, having “provocatively” flown close to Russian air space.
Highlighting the risk of a Russia-U.S. clash, Moscow contended the air encounter showed the U.S. was directly involved in the Ukraine conflict, something Washington has taken pains to avoid for fear of worsening tensions between the two nuclear powers.
The Pentagon said it had indications Russia was trying to recover debris from the drone, which would be difficult to recover in very deep water. Russia said on Wednesday it would try to retrieve the remains but appeared to acknowledge the challenges.
Washington has said the drone no longer carried any valuable intelligence.
China, which has not condemned Russia for invading Ukraine, said it was concerned about the war intensifying and hoped Moscow and Kyiv would hold peace talks.
WAR CRIMES PROBE
Investigations by an international panel said some of Russia’s actions since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, may be crimes against humanity. Russia dismissed the report released on Thursday, which said crimes included wilful killings and torture.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made no direct reference to the United Nations-mandated report in his nightly video address. He spoke in remembrance of those killed in the Russian bombing of a…
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