- 15 Mar 2023 - 20:43(20:43 GMT)
What is the MQ-9 Reaper drone that collided with a Russian jet?
There has been a lot of talk about Tuesday’s collision between a Russian Su-27 fighter jet and a US military “Reaper” surveillance drone.
So what is an MQ-9 “Reaper” drone? Here is basic information from the US Air Force and its maker, General Atomics.
- The MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle can loiter at up to 15,240m (50,000 feet) for more than 27 hours, gathering intelligence with sophisticated cameras, sensors and radars.
- It has a 20m (66-foot) wingspan, a Honeywell engine, can carry 1,770kg (3,900 pounds) of fuel, and can travel at a speed of 240 knots “true air speed”.
- The Reaper, which was delivered to the air force 16 years ago, can also be equipped with weapons such as air-to-ground missiles.
What are the advantages of drones?
- Drones are generally less expensive than crewed aircraft with similar capabilities and are safer for operators since they do not require a pilot. Unlike most other aircraft, drones can loiter for hours gathering intelligence material.
- They cost about $3,500 per flight hour, compared with, for example, an F-16, which costs about $8,000 per flight hour to operate, according to General Atomics.
Can an MQ-9 defend itself?
- General Atomics says the MQ-9 has “demonstrated an air-to-air weapons capability” in air force tests.
- It can also be equipped with a “Self Protect Pod” that can detect threats and deploy countermeasures against surface-to-air weapons.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 20:31(20:31 GMT)
Russia will ‘react proportionately’ to future US ‘provocations’: Defence ministry
Russia says it will react “proportionately” to any future US “provocations” as tensions raged over the drone incident.
“Flights of American strategic unmanned aerial vehicles off the coast of Crimea are provocative in nature, which creates preconditions for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea zone,” the Russian defence ministry said.
“Russia is not interested in such a development of events but it will continue to respond proportionately to all provocations.”
- 15 Mar 2023 - 20:26(20:26 GMT)
Increased US spying on Russia led to drone incident: Moscow
The US’s “increased” intelligence gathering on Russia led to the recent drone incident, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said after a phone call with his US counterpart.
It is Washington’s “increased intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation” as well as the “noncompliance with the restricted flight zone” declared by Moscow that have led to the incident with the US drone, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The US insists its MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying in international airspace – a claim disputed by Moscow, which says it intruded into an area declared off-limits by Russian authorities.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 20:01(20:01 GMT)
Canada announces more military aid for Kyiv
Canada is sending more military assistance to Ukraine, Defence Minister Anita Anand said during a US-hosted Defense Contact Group in support of Kyiv.
Canada will donate about 8,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition as well as 12 air defence missiles sourced from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) inventory, read a statement from Canada’s defence ministry.
The shipments of four Leopard 2 battle tanks are under way, added the report.
Canada has committed eight Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in total, four of which have already been delivered to Poland with a team of CAF personnel training Ukrainian soldiers on their use, the ministry said.
All of the tanks – as well as the previously announced armoured recovery vehicle, ancillary equipment and ammunition donated by Canada – are expected to be in Ukraine in the coming weeks.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 19:45(19:45 GMT)
Lead up to drone crash ‘intentional’ on Russia’s part: US general
Top US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he planned to talk to his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
The call would take place after a Russian jet collided with a US surveillance drone, causing it to crash.
Milley said there were still questions as to whether Russia meant to down the drone, even though the moments that led up to its crash were “intentional”.
“We know that the intercept was intentional. We know that the aggressive behaviour was intentional,” Milley said.
However, whether the collision itself was intentional was still unclear, he told reporters at a briefing.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 19:13(19:13 GMT)
Russia making small advances near Bakhmut but at cost: US general
Russia is “making small, tactical advances, [but] at great cost” near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Mark Milley told reporters.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 18:39(18:39 GMT)
US to continue flying ‘wherever international law allows’: Austin
The US will continue to fly wherever international law allows, defence chief Lloyd Austin told reporters after speaking with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
“I just got off the phone with my Russian counterpart, Minister Shoigu,” Austin said at a Pentagon press briefing. “As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s important that great powers be models of transparency and communication and the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.”
The US has said it was working on declassifying surveillance footage from the drone that would show Tuesday’s crash.
Austin’s comments came just after Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Washington was well aware that Moscow had established airspace restrictions over the Black Sea region since the start of the war.
That Austin and Shoigu were talking underscored the seriousness of the encounter over the Black Sea. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, contact between the two military leaders has been limited, with Russian officials refusing to take US military calls in the early months of the war.
Austin and Shoigu first spoke about Russia’s invasion in May 2022. At the time, it was the highest-level US-Russian contact of the war.
In October, they spoke twice in three days as the threat of an escalation was high. Shoigu had accused Ukraine of planning to use a dirty bomb, a claim strongly rejected by the US and its Western allies who accused Russia of seeking a false pretext to justify further escalation, potentially including the use of a tactical nuclear weapon.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 18:06(18:06 GMT)
Russia, US defence ministers hold phone call: Russian media
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke over the phone with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, the Russian defence ministry said as reported by Interfax state-run media.
The conversation took place “at the initiative of the American side”, it added.
While no details were provided on what was discussed, the call comes as Washington and Moscow are ramping up their confrontational rhetoric over a US surveillance drone that crashed near Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014.
The US said a Russian jet hit the propeller of the drone, while Moscow says no contact was made and blamed “sharp manoeuvring” by the US aircraft for the incident.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 17:41(17:41 GMT)
Russia’s Lavrov says US ignoring its Black Sea airspace restrictions
The US is “ignoring” Russia’s established airspace restrictions around the Black Sea, Moscow’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov said.
In an interview on state TV, Lavrov said Russia established limits on flights in the region after the start of its military campaign in Ukraine, a fact the US was well aware of.
His comment came after Washington’s accusation that Moscow caused the crash of one of its military surveillance drones – a case that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was being investigated.
Blinken, who was speaking to reporters during a visit to Ethiopia, described the incident as “reckless” and “unsafe” but declined to provide details on the intent or motivation behind it.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 17:13(17:13 GMT)
IMF says ‘very good progress’ in talks on Ukraine loan programme
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says its staff held productive talks with Ukrainian officials in Warsaw, Poland and made “very good progress” on a set of policies that could underpin a new IMF lending programme for the war-torn country.
Vahram Stepanyan, the IMF resident representative to Ukraine, said staff met with Ukrainian officials from March 8 to 15 on their request for an IMF-supported programme.
The discussions should be concluded in the “coming days”, Stepanyan said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 16:40(16:40 GMT)
US says drone crash likely unintentional from Russia
US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price told the MSNBC news channel the drone’s crash into the Black Sea was likely an unintentional act by Russia.
Moscow warned Washington on Wednesday to keep away from its air space after the incident a day earlier.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 16:15(16:15 GMT)
Russians should be able to criticise army chiefs but soldier is ‘sacred’: Wagner chief
Russians should be allowed to criticise top military commanders but ordinary soldiers are beyond criticism, says Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group.
“I think that the law against discrediting should not apply to the command staff – that is me, the minister of defence and other leaders who make or can make mistakes during a special military operation,” Prigozhin said on Telegram.
“Society should say what it deems necessary about them,” said Prigozhin, who has publicly and repeatedly criticised Russian military leaders about how they have conducted the war in Ukraine.
“Only the soldier is sacred,” he posted. “So soldiers should be left alone.”
Prigozhin has been involved in a power struggle with the defence ministry and accused the military of not sharing ammunition with the Wagner Group.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 15:47(15:47 GMT)
Russia will ‘no longer allow anybody to violate our waters’: Ambassador
Russia’s ambassador to the US says he told Washington that Moscow would “no longer allow anybody to violate our waters”, the state TASS news agency reports.
Anatoly Antonov was summoned by the US State Department after the US drone crashed over the Black Sea on Tuesday.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 15:18(15:18 GMT)
Syria’s Assad expresses support for Russia during Moscow visit
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed his support for Russia in its war in Ukraine during talks with Putin at the Kremlin.
In a televised meeting with Putin, al-Assad said Russia was fighting neo-Nazis and “old Nazis” in Ukraine, according to a Russian translation.
The Syrian leader said the West had taken in “old Nazis” and was now supporting them.
He added that he envisaged tangible economic results as the pair spoke ahead of formal talks that Syrian officials hope will bring more Russian investments to support the country.
Russia’s military support for al-Assad was a crucial turning point in Syria’s brutal civil war in 2011, which had begun as a pro-democracy movement.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 14:47(14:47 GMT)
Germany calls on Moscow to extend grain deal
The German government has called on Moscow to extend the Black Sea grain deal beyond 60 days.
Speaking at a regular news conference, a spokesperson said the deal should continue indefinitely.
Since Russia and Ukraine signed the United Nations-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative in Turkey on July 22, millions of tonnes of grain have been exported from Ukrainian ports, helping lower global food prices.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 14:28(14:28 GMT)
Russia says will retrieve remains of sunken US drone
Russia has said it will try to retrieve the remains of the US drone that fell into the Black Sea.
Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told the Rossiya 1 TV channel: “I don’t know whether we will be able to retrieve it or not but it has to be done. And we’ll certainly work on it. I hope, of course, successfully.”
“Secondly … the Americans keep saying they’re not taking part in military operations. This is the latest confirmation that they are directly participating in these activities – in the war,” he added.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 14:07(14:07 GMT)
Zelenskyy thanks Denmark for $1bn fund
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Denmark after its government said it would create a fund of 7 billion Danish kroner ($1bn) for military, civilian and business aid for Ukraine.
On Twitter, the Ukrainian president said: “Sincerely grateful to Denmark’s parliament, PM [Mette Frederiksen] and Government for establishing Ukraine Support Fund. More than $1 billion in military, humanitarian & economic aid to Ukraine is a guarantee of bringing our common victory over the aggressor and the return of peace to Europe closer!”
Sincerely grateful to 🇩🇰 @folketinget, PM @Statsmin and Government for establishing 🇺🇦 Support Fund. More than $1 billion in military, humanitarian & economic aid to Ukraine is a guarantee of bringing our common victory over the aggressor and the return of peace to Europe closer!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 15, 2023
- 15 Mar 2023 - 13:46(13:46 GMT)
Who controls what?
Here are four maps we update daily, charting the latest war developments.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 13:32(13:32 GMT)
The war can’t bring world to a ‘standstill’: India
The Ukraine war has brought the world to a standstill when urgent action is needed to address growing global poverty, India’s Group of 20 summit negotiator Amitabh Kant said.
Kant’s comments came after the war overshadowed two G20 ministerial meetings in India in the last three weeks.
“Europe cannot bring growth, poverty, global debt, all developmental issues to a standstill across the world,” Kant told reporters.
“Especially when the south is suffering, especially when 75 countries are suffering from global debt, especially when one-third of the world is in recession, especially when 200 million people have gone below [the] poverty line. Can that one war bring the entire world to a standstill?”
“Nutrition has been impacted, health outcomes have been impacted, learning outcomes have been impacted, people have become stunted and wasted, and we are just concerned with one Russia and Ukraine war,” Kant said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 13:13(13:13 GMT)
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 385
Click here for a roundup of the war’s pivotal events from day 385.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 12:49(12:49 GMT)
Pope Francis calls for respect of religious sites
Pope Francis has called on parties in the war to respect religious sites in Ukraine as the Russian-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) faces eviction.
Ukrainian authorities have given the church a March 29 deadline to vacate its headquarters in the historic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex. It is the latest move against a church the government says is pro-Russian and collaborating with Moscow.
Referring specifically to the Lavra monastery, Francis asked “the warring parties to respect religious sites” and praised people who devote their lives to prayer, “be they of whatever denomination”.
On March 11, Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and supporter of Russia’s invasion, asked Francis and other religious leaders to persuade Ukraine to stop its crackdown against the UOC.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 12:19(12:19 GMT)
Russia must be ‘more careful’ in international airspace: US
US officials have told Russia’s ambassador to Washington that Moscow has to be more careful when flying in international airspace, White House spokesperson John Kirby says.
The Department of State summoned Anatoly Antonov for the first time since the war in Ukraine began to express concerns over the crash of the US drone.
“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,” he said.
Kirby added that the MQ-9 surveillance drone had not been recovered and may never be, given the depth of the Black Sea where it went down.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 12:02(12:02 GMT)
Drone crash is signal that Putin is trying to expand conflict: Ukraine
The involvement of Russian fighter jets in the crash of a US spy drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is a signal that Putin is ready to expand the conflict zone, a senior Ukrainian security official says.
“The incident with the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV, provoked by Russia in the Black Sea, is Putin’s signal of readiness to expand the conflict zone with the involvement of other parties,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, said on Twitter.
Russia’s tactic is occurring under “conditions of a strategic loss in the hope of a change in circumstances”, he wrote.
Інцидент з американським БПЛА MQ-9 Reaper, спровокований росією в Чорному морі, – це сигнал путіна про готовність до розширення зони конфлікту із втягуванням інших сторін. Тактика ва-банк – постійне підвищення ставок в умовах стратегічного програшу в надії на зміну обставин.
— Oleksiy Danilov (@OleksiyDanilov) March 15, 2023
- 15 Mar 2023 - 11:44(11:44 GMT)
Ukraine may defend $3bn eurobond lawsuit: UK court
Ukraine may defend a $3bn eurobond lawsuit brought by Russia on the basis that it was forced to assume the debt in 2013 because of threats of force from Moscow, the UK’s top court has ruled.
The long-awaited ruling on the lawsuit, which was brought in 2016 and long predates Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, paves the way for a full trial of Ukraine’s case. It concerns billions of dollars that pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich borrowed from Moscow months before mass protests forced him out of office in 2014 and before Russia annexed Crimea later that year.
Zelenskyy hailed the ruling as a “decisive victory” on Twitter.
He wrote, “Today, Ukraine secured another decisive victory against the aggressor. The Court has ruled that Ukraine’s defence based on Russia’s threats of aggression will have a full public trial. Justice will be ours.”
Today Ukraine secured another decisive victory against the aggressor, this time in the UK Supreme Court in the $3bn bonds case. The Court has ruled that Ukraine’s defence based on russia’s threats of aggression will have a full public trial. Justice will be ours.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 15, 2023
- 15 Mar 2023 - 11:20(11:20 GMT)
Relations with US at ‘lamentable state’, Kremlin says
Relations with the US are in a “lamentable state” and at their lowest level, the Kremlin says after Washington accused Russia of downing one of its Reaper drones.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there had been no high-level contacts with Washington over the incident but said Russia would never refuse to engage in constructive dialogue.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 10:50(10:50 GMT)
Turkey will continue discussions on extending Black Sea grain export deal
Turkey will continue discussions to extend a deal to allow grain exports across the Black Sea for 120 days rather than the 60 days Russia wants, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar says.
“We started negotiations in line with the initial version of the deal,” Akar said, according to a statement by the Ministry of National Defence. “The continuation of the deal is important. We will continue our contacts [regarding its extension for] 120 days instead of two months.”
On Monday, Russia suggested allowing the deal to be renewed for 60 days, half the term of the previous renewal, but Ukraine rejected it.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 10:35(10:35 GMT)
Russia shoots down three missiles over Belgorod: Governor
Russia says its forces have shot down three missiles over the southern border region of Belgorod.
“Three missiles were shot down by the air defence system over Belgorod and the Belgorodsky district,” Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. “Debris hit Belgorod’s residential sector. There is damage.”
Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov said nine homes and four apartment buildings had been damaged by debris late on Tuesday but no one had been hurt.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 10:13(10:13 GMT)
Turkey is closely monitoring US drone incident: Minister
Turkey is monitoring closely the developments on US military drone crash in the Black Sea after it was intercepted by Russian jets, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was reported as saying by Demiroren news agency.
Akar also said they had made several contacts about the incident without giving details, the Demiroren agency reported.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 09:49(09:49 GMT)
Russian oil export revenue dropped by 42 percent in February
Russia’s oil export revenue sank by 42 percent in February as Kyiv-allied countries tightened sanctions, the International Energy Agency says.
The country earned $11.6bn from its oil exports last month after the European Union imposed a ban on Russian petroleum products alongside a price cap agreed upon with the Group of Seven and Australia.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 09:36(09:36 GMT)
Turkey plans to approve Finland’s NATO bid
Turkey plans to approve Finland’s NATO bid, independently from Sweden’s, two Turkish officials told the Reuters news agency.
The Turkish parliament is highly likely to ratify Finland’s NATO membership before it closes in mid-April for elections, the officials said.
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto will visit Turkey on Friday to discuss his country’s bid to join NATO with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 09:10(09:10 GMT)
Russia proposes double taxation with ‘unfriendly countries’
Russia has proposed suspending its double taxation agreements with what it calls “unfriendly countries”, those that have imposed sanctions on Moscow, the finance ministry said.
“The Russian finance ministry and foreign ministry proposed that the president of Russia issue a decree suspending double taxation agreements with all countries that introduced unilateral economic restrictive measures against Russia,” it said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 08:05(08:05 GMT)
Danish government establishes $1bn fund to aid Ukraine
The Danish government and a broad majority of parties in Denmark’s parliament have agreed to establish a fund of 7 billion Danish crowns ($1bn) for civil, military and business aid to Ukraine, the finance ministry said.
“This is largely a reflection of the wishes Ukraine has, which in addition to the military and the humanitarian aid are now also about reconstruction,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told journalists.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 08:02(08:02 GMT)
Zelenskyy dismisses governors of three regions
President Zelenskyy has dismissed the governors of three Ukrainian regions: Luhansk in the east, Odesa in the south and Khmelnytskyi in the west.
No reason was given in the announcement by the government’s parliamentary representative.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 07:59(07:59 GMT)
Ukrainian commanders in favour of defending eastern front line
President Zelenskyy says military commanders are unanimously in favour of defending the eastern front line, including the ruined city of Bakhmut, which has been under siege by Russia for months.
“The main focus was on … Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “There was a clear position of the entire command: Strengthen this sector and destroy the occupiers to the maximum.”
- 15 Mar 2023 - 07:06(07:06 GMT)
Russia calls on US to halt ‘hostile’ flights after collision
Russia’s ambassador to the United States has called on Washington to stop “hostile” flights near his country’s border after a US drone was intercepted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea.
“We assume that the United States will refrain from further speculation in the media and stop flights near Russian borders,” ambassador Anatoly Antonov wrote on Telegram. “We consider any action with the use of US weaponry as openly hostile.”
- 15 Mar 2023 - 07:00(07:00 GMT)
Moscow sees US drone incident as provocation, says Russian ambassador
Moscow views the incident involving a Russian Su-27 fighter jet and a US military drone over the Black Sea as a provocation, Russia’s RIA state news agency reported citing Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States.
“We view this incident as a provocation,” Antonov said after being summoned by the US State Department.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 06:50(06:50 GMT)
US senator calls drone crash ‘reckless act’ by Putin
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called the incident that led to the crash of a US Reaper surveillance drone “another reckless act” by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military.
“I want to tell Mr Putin, Stop this behaviour before you are the reason for an unintended escalation,” Schumer said in remarks opening the US Senate.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 06:34(06:34 GMT)
Kyiv condemns ‘kidnappings’ as Russians foster Ukrainian kids
At their home in the middle of Siberia, Russian pastor Roman Vinogradov and his wife Yekaterina are the new foster parents of five children from Moscow-occupied eastern Ukraine.
The Vinogradovs are experienced fosterers now, raising 16 children, including four of their own, and say they just want to help those who are “very much in need”.
But Ukraine and human rights groups have condemned the forced transfer of thousands of children into Russia or Moscow-controlled territory since the invasion last year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week referred to “kidnapping, forced adoption and re-education of Ukrainian children committed by Russia”, calling this “a war crime and a crime against humanity”.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 05:44(05:44 GMT)
‘Very sensitive stage’ says analyst about timing of drone crash
Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, says it is a “very sensitive stage in this conflict because it really is the first direct contact that the public knows about between the West and Russia”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he invaded Ukraine to defend Russia from a hostile West bent on expanding into historically Russian territories.
Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is waging an unprovoked war of conquest that has destroyed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands of people and forced millions to flee their homes.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 04:41(04:41 GMT)
US yet to confirm whether drone recovery under way
The US has not yet recovered the crashed Reaper drone and neither has Russia, the US Air Forces in Europe said in a statement.
US officials declined to say whether any effort was under way to gather debris or pieces of the MQ-9 Reaper, valued at more than $30m.
Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the Russian Su-27 aircraft involved in the incident appeared to have been damaged but it did land, although Ryder would not say where.
This is not the first US Reaper to have been lost in recent years, including to hostile fire.
One was shot down in 2019 over Yemen with a surface-to-air missile, the US Central Command said at the time.
According to media reports, a US MQ-9 Reaper crashed in Libya in 2022, while another went down during a training exercise in Romania earlier in the same year.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 03:52(03:52 GMT)
Australia says Russia not playing by ‘rules’, must explain US drone crash
Australia’s defence minister has accused Russia of “not playing by the rules” after the US drone crashed into the Black Sea.
“What’s clear here is that Russia has not acted in a professional way and that has resulted in the downing of this drone,” Defence Minister and current acting Australian Prime Minister Richard Marles told a news conference.
“Russia has much explaining to do,” he said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 03:39(03:39 GMT)
UK defence secretary calls on Russia to respect international airspace
The United Kingdom’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has urged Moscow to respect international airspace after the US military drone crashed into the Black Sea following an intercept by Russian fighter jets.
“The key here is that all parties respect international air space and we urge the Russians to do so,” Wallace told the Reuters news agency during a visit to Tokyo.
“The Americans have said they think it is unprofessional,” he added.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 03:25(03:25 GMT)
Russian ambassador says US drones gathering intelligence for Kyiv
Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov said the downed US drone was flying with its transponders – which allows identification of an aircraft – switched off and was moving “deliberately and provocatively towards” Russian territory.
“The unacceptable actions of the United States military in the close proximity to our borders are cause for concern. We are well aware of the missions such reconnaissance and strike drones are used for,” the ambassador to the US said on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.
US drone flights in the region gather intelligence “which is later used by the Kiev regime to attack our armed forces and territory”, he said.
💬Anatoly Antonov: 🇺🇸 MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle that was moving deliberately and provocatively towards 🇷🇺 territory with its transponders turned off violated the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operationhttps://t.co/Q0BA6k3r3Q pic.twitter.com/9iVmtG7kG9
— Russian Embassy in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) March 15, 2023
Earlier, Antonov asked how the US would feel if a Russian drone flew off the US coast.
“This [United States] drone can carry 1,700 kilos of explosives. This drone can carry a few bombs… What will be the reaction of the United States if you see such Russian drones very close, for example, to San Francisco or New York,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“What will be the reaction of the United States? For me it’s clear. For you as well.”
- 15 Mar 2023 - 02:32(02:32 GMT)
How common are US and Russian military intercepts in the air?
This is not the first time the Pentagon has publicly condemned Russian planes flying close to US aircraft that
Military intercepts – either in the air or at sea – are routine and have happened several times with Russian and US aircraft in the Black Sea and in the Pacific, particularly in the north.
In 2020, Russian jets crossed in front of a US B-52 bomber flying over the Black Sea and flew as close as 30 meters (100 ft) in front of the bomber’s nose, causing turbulence.
In 2021, Russian warplanes buzzed the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer that had been taking part in a major exercise in the Black Sea.
Last month, US fighter jets intercepted two Russian TU-95 bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast and “escorted them” for 12 minutes, according to the Pentagon.
And Russian aircraft have done similar missions and also buzzed US Navy ships in the Pacific.
In most of the cases, the intercepts are deemed safe and professional.
Unlike an unmanned drone, the deliberate downing of a crewed aircraft – injuring or killing crew members – could be considered an act of war.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 02:06(02:06 GMT)
What is a MQ-9 Reaper drone?
The MQ-9 Reaper drone is a large, unmanned US Air Force aircraft remotely operated by a two-person team.
It includes a ground control station and satellite equipment and has a 66-foot (20-meter) wingspan.
Used routinely during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for surveillance and air attacks, the Reaper can be either armed or unarmed.
It can carry up to eight laser-guided missiles, including Hellfire missiles and other sophisticated munitions, and can loiter over targets for about 24 hours.
It is about 11 metres (36 feet) long, 3.6 metres (12 feet) high and weighs about 12,200 kg (4,900 pounds). It can fly at an altitude of up to 15 km (50,000 feet) and has a range of about 2,500 km (1,400 nautical miles).
The Reaper’s operations team includes a rated pilot responsible for flying the aircraft and an enlisted aircrew member charged with operating the sensors and guiding weapons.
The Reaper, which first began operating in 2007, replaced the US Air Force’s smaller Predator drones. Each Reaper costs about $32 million.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 01:48(01:48 GMT)
US says downing of drone by Russia was ‘unsafe and unprofessional’
Patrick Ryder, the press secretary for the US defence department, said Russia’s downing of the drone “demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional”.
The US Air Force “routinely fly aircraft throughout Europe over sovereign territory and throughout international airspace in coordination with applicable host nations and international laws in order to bolster collective European defence and security,” Ryder said in a press briefing.
“US and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international air space and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely,” he said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 01:36(01:36 GMT)
Washington, Moscow appear wary of escalation over drone incident
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC, said that comments by Russia’s US envoy, Antonov, on the drone crash, appeared to be more of a “justification than a denial”.
The ambassador’s comments were also at variance with the Russian foreign ministry, which said its jets were not the reason for the drone going down.
“But there we heard from the Russian ambassador implying that it was justified – the Russian action – because the drone was too close to what he defines as Russian territory, which is the Crimean coast,” Hanna said.
“However, on the record, the Russian foreign ministry statement still stands. It’s rejected by the United States, which has sharply criticised the incident.”
Given the ongoing tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hanna said the drone incident was “potentially very serious”.
“Any incident like this with the situation as tenuous as it is, is a problem for both sides. But what we are seeing here is an attempt perhaps by both sides not to allow the situation to escalate further,” Hanna said.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 01:19(01:19 GMT)
Russian envoy calls for caution after drone crash
Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, after being summoned by the State Department on Tuesday, said there was a need for caution “regarding our actions taking into account what is going on in eastern part of Europe”.
Referring to the circumstances regarding the downing of the US drone in the Black Sea, the ambassador said the US does not recognise Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation, but asked if it was necessary for the US “to provoke Russian navy or Russian air force on this issue”.
“We can see that Crimea is a part of Russian Federation. United States does not recognise this status,” he told reporters.
“We prefer to not to create a situation where we can face unintended clashes or unintended incidents between the Russian Federation and the United States,” the ambassador added.
Russia has declared broad areas near Crimea as off-limits to flights. The drone crashed into the sea after Russian fighter jets had scrambled to intercept it near Crimea.
Russia said its fighter jets did not come into contact with the drone, which it said had manoeuvred sharply before crashing into the sea.
- 15 Mar 2023 - 00:52(00:52 GMT)
US, Russia give conflicting accounts of drone incident
United States and Russian officials have given conflicting accounts of what occurred between a US surveillance drone and two Russian fighter jets after the downing of the drone in the Black Sea on Tuesday.
The Pentagon said that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets had dumped fuel on the MQ-9 Reaper drone, which was conducting a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the Black Sea.
The Russian jets also flew around and in front of the drone several times for 30 to 40 minutes and then one of the Russian aircraft struck the “unmanned aerial vehicle’s propeller, causing US forces to bring it down into international waters of the Black Sea early this morning,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Russian aircraft were scrambling to intercept the drone but did not use their weapons and “didn’t come into contact” with the US aircraft.
NEWS: Russian Fighter Strikes U.S. Unmanned Aircraft https://t.co/3eDx3LYW6v
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) March 14, 2023
Russia-Ukraine updates: Blinken says US investigating drone crash
All the updates from March 15. Blinken describes Russian jet’s collision with a US drone as ‘reckless’ and ‘unsafe’.
The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. These were the updates on the Russia-Ukraine war on Wednesday, March 15:
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says an investigation is ongoing into the collision of a United States military drone with a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea.
- Following the drone incident, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a rare phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu where he stressed the US would continue to fly “wherever international law allows”.
- In a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Russia was fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine and expressed support for Moscow.
- Turkey’s president hinted he plans to approve Finland’s NATO bid ahead of Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies