This Tuesday, March 14, a serious incident took place in the Black Sea, over international waters, which could have serious repercussions in that area.
The United States European Command (USEUCOM) today released video of the incident, in which a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the United States Air Force ( USAF) was attacked by two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters. You can see here the video released today by the USEUCOM:
In the video we see that a Su-27 fighter approached the MQ-9 UAV in a very dangerous way, expelling fuel on the drone while the Russian pilot carried out those risky maneuvers. According to reported by USEUCOM, a Russian fighter collided with the UAV, damaging its propeller and interrupting video transmission for 60 seconds, which forced the US to drop the device in the Black Sea (it would have been very risky to bring it to the mainland in those conditions). The video clearly shows the risky maneuvers of the Su-27 and the damage caused to two of the MQ-9's propeller blades by the collision of one of the Russian fighters.
The USEUCOM noted on Tuesday that the attack was carried out by two Russian Su-27 fighters that day at 7:03 am (CET): "Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional." The aforementioned Command has added:"These aggressive actions by Russian aircrew are dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation."
Above these lines we can see a map published by the US Air Force in Europe (USAFE) showing the point at which the UAV was intercepted by the Russian fighters, the point at which it was hit, and the point at which it fell into the sea. All the indicated places oscillate between 40 and 80 nautical miles away from the coast, that is, in international waters. Let us remember that according to international laws, the airspace covers that corresponding to territorial waters from each country, that is, up to 12 nautical miles. Everything located beyond territorial waters is considered international airspace.
The action of the Russian fighters is unusual from an aeronautical point of view. The Su-27 pilots stupidly risked the safety of their planes in that action. These close-range approaches demonstrate the lack of professionalism of the Russian pilots -demonstrated many times in also risky flights against allied aircraft in the Baltic Sea- and they could be aimed at shooting down the MQ-9 without destroying it. In fact, as The Guardian reported yesterday, Russia plans to salvage the wreckage of the UAV, perhaps with the aim of accessing intelligence data obtained by the MQ-9. The rescue operation would not be easy, since the remains would be at great depth.
The video released today by USEUCOM dismantles yet another lie of the many that the Kremlin has been propagating. On Tuesday night, and without providing any evidence, the Russian Defense Ministry assured that their planes "did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle", something that is a lie as can be seen in the video. The Kremlin also said that the MQ-9 was making "abrupt maneuvers", and that as a result of them, "the drone began an uncontrolled flight with loss of altitude and hit the water." The video clearly shows that this is a lie and that the sudden maneuvers were made by the Su-27s, damaging the MQ-9 and causing its loss.
The Kremlin has systematically resorted to lies to justify its aggressions, using its network of propagandists to spread this misinformation and favor its positions in Western countries. This is what has happened again with this attack: pro-Russian propagandists have launched into propagating the Kremlin hoax without proof, and they will continue to do so now that there is clear proof that disproves the Russian version. This is what they are already doing with all the Russian crimes in Ukraine. The question that can be asked is whether they do it out of mere affinity or in exchange for financial reward.
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