CNN  — 

US European Command released footage of the Tuesday encounter between a US surveillance drone and the Russian fighter jets as it played out over the Black Sea.

The newly declassified video depicts critical moments in the mid-air encounter, which the Pentagon said lasted between 30 and 40 minutes.

US Air Force MQ-9 camera footage: Russian Su-27 Black Sea intercept - bent propller on drone

The video shows the camera of the MQ-9 Reaper drone pointed backward toward its tail and the drone’s propeller, which is mounted on the rear, spinning. Then, a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet is shown approaching. As it draws closer, the Russian fighter jet dumps fuel as it intercepts the US drone.

In another portion of the footage, the Russian jet makes another pass. As it approaches, it again dumps fuel. The video from the drone is then disrupted as the Russian fighter jet collides with the MQ-9 Reaper, damaging the propeller and ultimately forcing the US to bring down the drone in the Black Sea. Russia has denied that a collision occurred.

When the camera comes back online in the footage, the view is again pointed backward, and the propeller is shown damaged from the collision. With the propeller damaged, the drone operators effectively flew the aircraft as a glider as it descended over the Black Sea, bringing it down in international waters southwest of Crimea. On its way down, two US officials told CNN the operators remotely wiped the drone’s sensitive software, mitigating the risk of secret materials falling into enemy hands before it crashed into the water.

The downing of the drone marked the first time Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the release of the dramatic footage, and the back-and-forth over who is to blame, the Biden administration has not said it will take action against Russia over the downing of the drone, perhaps indicating a desire to not further escalate tensions after the Kremlin said Wednesday that relations between Moscow and Washington are at their “lowest point.”

US says footage ‘absolutely confirms’ there was a collision

A senior Biden administration official said the footage “absolutely confirms” that there was a physical collision and dumping of fuel, but it does not confirm the pilot’s intent.

On Wednesday two US officials familiar with the intelligence told CNN that senior officials at the Russian Ministry of Defense gave the order for the Russian fighter jets to harass a US drone over the Black Sea this week.

The high-level military officials’ connection to the incident suggests that the fighter jet pilots were not taking rogue action when they interfered with the US drone.

But, at this time there is no indication that the highest of political leaders in Russia – particularly those in the Kremlin, including President Vladimir Putin – knew about the planned aggression in advance, one of the US officials said.

National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said on “CNN This Morning” Wednesday that the drone had not been recovered and that he was “not sure” the US would be able to recover it.

Moscow had made clear it would attempt to retrieve the wreckage of the drone and the US believes Russia has recovered some debris, a US official familiar with the matter told CNN. The official described the recovered wreckage as pieces of fiberglass or small bits of the drone.

The Kremlin has said a decision on whether to retrieve the drone will come from Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

“This is the prerogative of the military. If they believe that it is necessary for our interests and our security in the Black Sea, they will do it,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

Peskov said he did not know what the ministry has decided.

Moscow and Washington have been in contact through military and diplomatic channels.

US assessing drone operations in Black Sea area

The US is conducting an assessment of its drone operations in the Black Sea area following the incident, four US officials tell CNN.

It has not stopped the flights entirely amid the assessment – the military sent the same model of drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, on a mission in approximately the same area over the Black Sea shortly after the collision occurred, US officials told CNN, in an effort to survey the crash site and monitor Russian efforts to look for the debris.

But the US military is “taking a close look” at the drone’s routes and assessing how to better deconflict with Russian forces, the officials said, who have been regularly flying their fighter jets in and out of Crimea. The Pentagon has asked European Command to justify surveillance flights in the area going forward in part to assess risk, a senior US military official said.

The US is considering conducting another drone flight over the Black Sea in the coming days, the officials said. That is generally consistent with the drones’ typical operating schedule, which can fluctuate, they added.

Officials also plan to analyze the overall costs and benefits of flying these missions, comparing the potential intelligence value of a particular route versus the risk of escalation with Russia.

Officials also plan to analyze the overall costs and benefits of flying these missions, comparing the potential intelligence value of a particular route versus the risk of escalation with Russia.

Russia accused the US of violating airspace they said they created for their “special military operation” in Ukraine – a designation the US does not accept and the officials told CNN that Russia has not communicated any such airspace restriction.

Asked on Thursday whether the US had flown any drone missions over the Black Sea since the collision on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder declined to comment on “specific missions, routes, and timelines of operations.”

“I think Secretary Austin was pretty clear that we’re going to continue to fly and operate in international airspace where international law allows and that includes the Black Sea region,” Ryder said.

The first official noted there is concern among some in the US military that limiting routes will impact intelligence gathering related to the Ukraine war. But the US also has other intelligence-gathering methods it utilizes when it is not conducting drone flights in the area, such as spy satellites.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Natasha Bertand, MJ Lee, Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.