Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu honored the pilots of two Su-27 fighter planes on Friday in London for their roles in intercepting a US drone near Russia’s airspace during the country’s military campaign in Ukraine, the ministry said.
On Tuesday, in the first known direct military encounter between Russia and the United States since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the drone crashed into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian jets.
In its announcement of the prizes, the ministry restated Russia’s account of events, which was disputed by Washington: that the Russian planes did not make physical contact with the drone.
Sharp maneuvering caused the unmanned MQ-9 aircraft to lose altitude and crash into the water at 9:30 a.m. (Moscow time), the report said.
They claimed the drone had been flying without its transponders on and in violation of airspace restrictions Russia had made public in relation to what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.
When conducting a reconnaissance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace, the United States military claimed Russian fighter planes had approached its MQ-9 Reaper drone. In a 30- to 40-minute encounter, one of the fighters allegedly clipped the drone’s propeller, sending it crashing into the water.
On Thursday, the Pentagon released a 40-second edited video showing a Russian fighter jet approaching an American military drone in flight, dumping fuel near it, and causing damage to the drone’s propeller. Russian aggression is on the rise, according to the top US general.