Kyiv, Ukraine –
Russian authorities said they would try to recover fragments of a US reconnaissance drone that was shot down by US forces in the Black Sea after a confrontation with Russian warplanes.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in televised remarks on Wednesday that Russia plans to search for the drone’s wreckage.
“I don’t know if we can get it back or not, but we will definitely have to, and we will deal with it,” said Patrushev. “I definitely hope for success.”
A spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said that the plane was flying in international airspace and over international waters when the confrontation with the Russian fighter took place on Tuesday.
He pointed out that the presence of the drone over the Black Sea is common. Kirby said the MQ-9 Reaper drone has not yet been recovered and it is not clear if it will be.
Patrushev said the drone incident highlights the US involvement in hostilities in Ukraine. Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, also noted that Russia has the ability to recover drone fragments.
This is an urgent update. Below is the former AP’s story.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – A Kremlin spokesman said a day after the United States said a Russian fighter had hit a US reconnaissance drone over the Black Sea.
US officials accused Russia of trying to intercept the drone, which was shot down by US forces. Asked on Wednesday if the incident could inflame tensions with Washington, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated the Russian defense ministry’s statement that the Russian planes did not use their weapons and did not affect the US drone.
Peskov described US-Russian relations as being at an all-time low, but added that “Russia has never rejected any constructive dialogue and is not rejecting it now.”
A spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said that the plane was flying in international airspace and over international waters when the confrontation with the Russian fighter took place on Tuesday. He pointed out that the presence of the drone over the Black Sea is common.
“It’s not uncommon for the Russians to try to intercept them,” Kirby said, adding that such a confrontation “increases the risk of miscalculation and misunderstanding.”
He said the MQ-9 Reaper drone had not been recovered and it was not clear if it would be.
“The last thing we want, and certainly the last thing anyone wants, is for this war in Ukraine to escalate into something between the United States and Russia, and to actually spill over… beyond that,” Kirby said on CNN on Wednesday.
At the Pentagon, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the interception of the Russian aircraft was part of “a range of aggressive, dangerous and dangerous actions by Russian pilots in international airspace”. He said Russia should operate its aircraft safely.
“Make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and operate wherever international law allows,” Austin said in his opening remarks ahead of a virtual meeting of US-led efforts to coordinate Western military support to Ukraine.
Although encounters between Russian and NATO aircraft are not unusual—before the invasion of Ukraine, NATO’s plans included an average of 400 interceptions of Russian aircraft—the war has increased the significance and danger of such incidents.
Ukraine’s Minister of National Security and Defense Oleksiy Danilov wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the drone incident was “a signal from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that he is ready to expand the conflict zone, while attracting other parties.”
Separately, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said fighter jets from the British and German air forces were scrambled to intercept a Russian plane that was flying near Estonian airspace on Tuesday. The UK and Germany are conducting joint air police missions in Estonia as part of NATO’s strengthening of its eastern flank.
The Defense Ministry said the Typhoons responded after a Russian refueling plane failed to contact Estonian air traffic control. The Russian plane did not enter the airspace of Estonia, a NATO member.
On the ground in Ukraine, on the battlefield. Ukraine’s presidential office announced on Wednesday morning that at least three civilians were killed and 23 others wounded in the country in Russian strikes over the past 24 hours.
And in the partially occupied Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, where the fiercest fighting has been concentrated, Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said a total of 14 towns and villages had been bombed. This included Kramatorsk, the city where some of Ukraine’s military forces are stationed.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that Ukrainian forces fought successfully in the northern parts of the city in the besieged Bakhmut region, as Russian forces practiced a months-long offensive to take control of the city.
“There are proven and significant successes of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which managed to achieve something in the north of the city,” Malyar told Ukrainian television. “Bakhmut is the epicenter (of the fighting in the Donetsk region), the Russian occupiers are trying to surround the city and capture it.”
In the northeastern region of Kharkiv, one person was killed and another wounded in the town of Vovchansk, near the border with Russia, which is regularly bombed. Gov. Oleh Sinyhopov said Russian forces had also bombed a civilian area in Kharkiv itself, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov said: “There are no military installations or infrastructure near the attack site. Only residential buildings and urban infrastructure.
In an interview with Ukrainian television, Terekhov said that there was damage to a boarding school in which only employees were present, in addition to an apartment building. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
In the south, Russian forces bombed the city of Kherson seven times in the past 24 hours, causing damage to infrastructure and residential buildings, and wounding four people. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, Russian forces bombed the cities of Nikopol and Maranets, located across the river from the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Superville reported from Washington.