US officials told Russia’s ambassador to the United States that Moscow has to be more careful when flying in international airspace, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday, following the crash of a US military drone into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets.
The State Department on Tuesday summoned Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, to express US concerns over the incident, the first since the war in Ukraine began more than a year ago.
“The message that we delivered to the Russian ambassador is that they need to be more careful in flying in international airspace near US assets that are, again, flying in completely legal ways, conducting missions in support of our national security interests,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN.
“They’re the ones that need to be more careful.”
Kirby also said the MQ-9 surveillance drone has not been recovered and may never be recovered, given the depth of the Black Sea where it went down.
“It has not been recovered,” Kirby said. “And I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to recover it. Where it fell into the Black Sea – very, very deep water. So we’re still assessing whether there can be any kind of recovery effort. There may not be.”
The Pentagon said one of the Russian Su-27 jets struck the propeller of the drone on Tuesday, making it inoperable, while Russia’s defense ministry blamed “sharp maneuvering” of the unmanned drone for the crash and said that its jets did not make contact.
Antonov, the Russian ambassador, said the drone “deliberately and provocatively was moving towards Russian territory with transponders turned off.”