MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Shoigu presented for state awards the pilots of the Su-27 fighter jets, which were taken into the air this week because of an American drone over the Black Sea. The agency said the pilots prevented the violation of “the limits of the area of the temporary use of airspace.”
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On March 14, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu awarded state awards to the pilots of Su-27 fighter jets who took off from the back of an American drone over the Black Sea, the ministry reported on its Telegram channel.
The Ministry of Defense said the pilots “prevented the violation” by the US drone of the “borders of the area of the temporary regime for the use of airspace” established to conduct a “special military operation”. At the same time, the agency stressed that the Russian fighter jets did not use airborne weapons, did not come into contact with the drone, and returned safely to the airport of their base.
The crash of the MQ-9 reconnaissance drone in the Black Sea was reported by the European Command [EUCOM] on the evening of March 14. According to the American side, the Russian Su-27 hit the propeller of the drone, after which it was flooded by the Americans in international waters. The United States claims that Russian fighter jets carried out an “unsafe and unprofessional” interception of a drone carrying out missions in international space.
On March 16, EUCOM released a video it claimed captured the moment the Su-27 met an American drone. The description of the video claims that the Russian plane dropped fuel in front of the drone and hit its propeller.
The incident caused a wave of joking comments and memes on Internet social networks. Especially after the video footage from the drone’s camera of the moment Russian planes drop fuel over the American drone was released. Some jokers described the incident as “Su-27 peed on an American drone”.
The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, denied that any of its planes made contact with the American drone. The agency insists the drone entered an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and fell into the water as a result of “abrupt maneuvering”.
After the incident, the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was summoned to the US State Department, where, according to him, a constructive conversation took place. On March 15, Russian and US defense ministers Sergei Shoigu and Lloyd Austin discussed the incident by phone. The US State Department acknowledged the incident was unintentional but noted its “potential for escalation”.
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