A Russian plane shot down an American drone over international waters. Here’s what you need to know

In this Feb. 21 file photo, an MQ-9 Reaper from the U.S. Air Force’s 119th Wing flies over an airfield at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (Senior Airman Christa Anderson/US Air National Guard/File)

A Russian fighter jet shot down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of the US MQ-9 Reaper drone, according to the US military.

The Reaper drone and two Russian Su-27 planes were flying over international waters over the Black Sea on Tuesday when one of the Russian planes intentionally flew ahead and dumped fuel on the unmanned drone several times, according to a statement from the US European Command.

The aircraft then struck the drone’s propeller, prompting US forces to shoot down the MQ-9 drone in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder added on Tuesday that the Russian plane flew “in close proximity” to the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding just after 7 a.m. Central European time.

“Our MQ-9 aircraft was performing routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” the general said. Air Force Commander James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said in the statement. “In fact, this dangerous and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused the two planes to crash.”

The incident marks the first time Russian and US military planes have come into direct physical contact since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago and is likely to heighten tensions between both nations, with the United States calling Russia’s actions “reckless, environmentally friendly.” unhealthy and unprofessional.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has said Russia does not want a “confrontation” between his country and the United States after he was summoned to the State Department after the drone was downed.

“We prefer not to create a situation where we could face unintended clashes or incidents between the Russian Federation and the United States,” Antonov said.

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