Russian authorities say that they will try to recover the fragments of a U.S. surveillance drone that American forces brought down in the Black Sea after an encounter with Russian fighter jets.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in remarks televised Wednesday that Russia planned to search for the drone's debris.
“I don’t know if we can recover them or not, but we will certainly have to do that, and we will deal with it,” Patrushev said. “I certainly hope for success.”
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the drone was flying in international airspace and over international waters when the encounter with the Russian fighter took place Tuesday.
He stressed that the drone’s presence over the Black Sea was not an uncommon occurrence. Kirby said the MQ-9 Reaper drone had not yet been recovered and it was unclear whether it would be.
Patrushev claimed the drone incident underlined the U.S. engagement in the hostilities in Ukraine. Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, also noted that Russia has the capability to recover the drone’s fragments.
Russia does not rule out “constructive dialogue” with the United States even though relations between Moscow and Washington are in a “deplorable state,” the Kremlin's spokesman said a day after the U.S. reported that a Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea.
U.S. officials accused Russia of attempting to intercept the unmanned aerial vehicle, which American forces brought down. Asked Wednesday if the incident could inflame tensions with Washington, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement that Russian jets didn’t use their weapons or impact the U.S. drone.
Peskov described U.S.-Russia relations as being at their lowest point but added that “Russia has never rejected a constructive dialogue, and it’s not rejecting it now.”
The MQ-9 Reaper drone has not yet been recovered and it was unclear whether it would be, he said.
“The last thing that we want, certainly the last thing that anybody should want, is for this war in Ukraine to escalate to become something between the United States and Russia, to have this actually ... expand beyond that,” Kirby said, speaking Wednesday on CNN.
At the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the intercept by the Russian jet was part of a “pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.” He said Russia must operate its aircraft in a safe manner.
“Make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows,” Austin said in opening remarks before a virtual meeting of a U.S.-led effort to coordinate Western military support for Ukraine.