Video released by Pentagon shows moment Russian jet hit US spy drone


he Pentagon has released footage of what it says was a Russian aircraft pouring fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone and clipping its propeller in international air space over the Black Sea.

The 42-second video released by the US on Thursday shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said, in an apparent attempt to blind its optical instruments and drive it out of the area.

On a second approach, either the same jet or another Russian fighter struck the drone’s propeller, damaging one blade, according to the US military.

The military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea after what it said was an unsafe intercept of the unmanned aerial vehicle.

The downing of the American spy drone on Tuesday has sparked rising tensions between the US and Moscow, and has led the UK to urge Russia to respect international airspace.

The US said it marked a “brazen violation of international law” by Russia.

Moscow has denied hitting the drone, saying it manoeuvred sharply and crashed into water following an encounter with Russian fighter jets scrambled to intercept it adjacent Crimea.

The footage released on Thursday does not exhibit events before or after the apparent fuel-dumping confrontation, which is said to gain happened just after 6am GMT on Tuesday.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General imprint Milley gain spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the drone.

The calls with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday were the first since October.

While intercept attempts are not uncommon, the incident amid the war in Ukraine has raised concerns it could bring the US and Russia closer to direct conflict.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in its report of the call with Mr Austin that Mr Shoigu accused the US of provoking the incident by ignoring flight restrictions the Kremlin had imposed because of its military operations in Ukraine.

Moscow also blamed “the intensification of intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation”.

Such US actions “are fraught with escalation of the situation in the Black Sea area”, the Defence Ministry said, warning that Russia “will respond in kind to all provocations”.