Downing of a US drone over the Black Sea: new details about the provocation of the Russian Federation and its consequences for Ukraine
The Russian military acted according to a scenario worked out back in Soviet times.
Russia's provocation to destroy an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea has heightened tensions between the Kremlin and Washington.
Analysts agree that the event near the occupied Crimea will have consequences not only for the Russian Federation, but also for Ukraine.
TSN.ua collected the details of the incident and the opinions of experts – what is Russia's goal, what will be the US response, how a provocation in the Black Sea may affect Western support for Ukraine.
Incident in the Black Sea: versions of the parties
US Forces Europe Command said an MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance drone was conducting a routine operation in international airspace when two Russian aircraft attempted to intercept it. One of the Russian planes hit the MQ-9 propeller, causing US forces to sink their own drone, according to the statement.
White House spokesman John Kirby called the incident unique – Russia's actions were so “dangerous, unprofessional and reckless”.
As US Air Force Commander General James Gecker noted, US and allied aircraft will continue to fly in international airspace in accordance with international laws. He added that “the aggressive actions of the Russian crew are dangerous and can lead to miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”
According to media reports, the US military, who followed the pursuit of the MQ-9 Reaper drone by Russian Su-27 fighters, was shocked. Su-27s circled over the Reaper and dumped fuel on it, likely to flood the drone's cameras or damage sensors.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that their Su-27 fighters had nothing to do with the fall of the American drone. According to the Russian version, “as a result of sharp maneuvering around 09:30 (Moscow time), the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle went into uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface.”
In connection with the incident, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov was summoned to the State Department in Washington. Antonov said that “American planes have nothing to do near the Russian border.” The diplomat insists that the actions of the Russian pilots were professional, and “there were no contacts, our fighters did not use any weapons.”
Military-political observer Alexander Kovalenko believes that the collision of the Russian Su-27 with the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV is a planned provocation. According to him, the Russian Federation has rich experience in such provocations without the use of weapons of destruction.
“Even in Soviet times, provocative and dangerous actions of aviation and ships against opponents were practiced … The Su-27 approached the MQ-9 UAV, deliberately setting the goal of destroying it by damaging the propeller. Fuel dumping before approaching was due to a decrease in the risk of fire and detonations… An American reconnaissance UAV, costing as much as a fighter, was shot down at a low, very low cost. The goal was achieved , “Kovalenko believes.
He also predicts that the US will not respond militarily to the incident.
“But this is what they (the Russians – ed.) can induce Washington to do during the formation of the next package of military assistance to Ukraine – that is the question. After all, this challenge will not remain unanswered ,” the expert added.
How will the US respond?
The incident in the Black Sea will lead to an aggravation between the Russian Federation and the United States. In response, even the destruction of a Russian military aircraft is not ruled out.
This opinion was expressed by the head of the Center for Military Legal Studies Oleksandr Musiyenko in a commentary to BBC News Ukraine.
“In my opinion, these were targeted actions by Russian aviation. There should be no doubt – they intended to damage or destroy an American drone … I want to remind you that Russian aircraft quite often violate the airspace of the Baltic countries. It cannot be ruled out that some dangerous unprofessional actions can be shown by American pilots, or NATO pilots – as the Russians did ,” he stressed.
The expert recalled that the United States intends to continue flying over the Black Sea, including with the use of Reapers.
“This is evidence that they are not afraid of aggressive manifestations of escalation from the Russian side. But in this way they give Russia a signal – try to do something again, then it is possible that the American air force will decide to shoot down any Russian aircraft that can take such actions,” Musienko said.
Consequences of the incident for Ukraine
The incident in the Black Sea could play into the hands of Ukraine and increase the volume of Western military assistance to Kyiv.
This opinion was expressed on the air of the all-Ukrainian telethon by military expert and editor-in-chief of Defense Express Oleg Katkov .
Katkov recalled that the incident took place on the eve of the next Ramstein summit, where counteraction to Russian aggression will be discussed:
“Due to the situation with the downed American reconnaissance UAV in the Black Sea, the agenda may change a little. Everyone understands that it is necessary to counteract the Russian Federation. And if you do not give a response to its aggressive actions, then it will allow itself more. Today they destroyed the UAV, after that they will do something with the American manned aircraft.”
According to the expert, ” the very fact that this happened before Ramstein may play into the hands of Ukraine .”
In turn, the executive director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, Vadim Denisenko, believes that Russia is trying to intimidate the West in order to deprive Ukraine of the support of its allies.
On his Facebook page, Denisenko outlined three conclusions for Ukraine regarding the incident in the Black Sea:
- The Russians decided to raise the degree. Obviously, all this is being done, not least because of the statements of Trump and DeSantis about reducing assistance to Ukraine.
- The logic of the Russians is as follows: Biden does not want to fight and will not, and the Republicans will “pump” the Democrats. The Russians need to build the stability of the collective West. And a downed drone is one of the elements of this game.
- The most important thing for us is that, in spite of everything, we have a rather weak lobbying capacity in Washington. And, unfortunately, leverage is incredibly limited. The creation of lobbying capacities is one of our most important fronts. Unfortunately, while this front looks too bare.