A Russian fighter jet forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, according to US officials. The drone was flying over international waters when one of two Russian jets intentionally flew in front of and dumped fuel on the unmanned drone several times, according to the US European Command.
Russia has pushed back, denying that its jets came "into contact" with the drone. The Russian Ambassador to the US said Russia does not want “confrontation” with the US but "as we see it, American aircraft have no business being near the Russian border."
Here's what to know:
- US-Russia drone intervention: A Russian jet downed a US drone over the Black Sea. Aircraft from both countries have operated over the Black Sea during the course of the war, but this is the first known such interaction, a potentially dangerous escalation at a critical time in the fighting. The incident prompted US officials to express "strong objections" to diplomats. Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder called it "uncommon and unfortunate and unsafe." President Joe Biden and US allies have been briefed, according to the White House and the Pentagon.
- Russian response: Moscow has pushed back, denying that its fighter jets came "into contact" with the US drone. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said Russia does not want a "confrontation" with the US, but the craft was too close to the Russian border. The drone has not been recovered, a spokesperson for US European Command said.
- Latest from the front lines: Russian strikes across the Donetsk region have killed at least three people. In Bakhmut, social media posts appear to confirm fighting around the AZOM metallurgical plant in the north of the city. The intensity of shelling in the city has increased, a Ukrainian soldier said on Ukrainian television. Wagner units appear to be making limited advances but remain well short of encircling Bakhmut. In southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said it destroyed four Russian missiles that were headed toward Odesa.
- Update on Western aid: Ukrainian soldiers have nearly completed their training on Leopard 2 battle tanks in Munster, Germany, according to a spokesperson for the special training command. Once the training is finished, Germany can deploy the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the spokesperson said. Germany has so far vowed to supply Ukraine with 18 of the latest A6 model Leopard 2 tanks. Additionally, the Netherlands announced it will send two minesweepers, drone detection radar systems and ferrying and bridge-building systems to Ukraine, according to Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren.
- War crime investigation: The Russian government has said it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, after the court declared its plans to open two war crimes cases against Russia, according to The New York Times and Reuters.