Newly released footage demonstrates that Russia lied about its interception of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, according to the White House.
A Russian fighter jet collided with a U.S. MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea on March 14, causing the drone to crash into the sea.
Moscow falsely claimed that the drone made an abrupt maneuver which caused it to crash but the United States released a de-classified video on March 16 showing the Russian fighter barreling toward the drone before apparently colliding with it.
“It clearly demonstrated our narrative of what happened,” said National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby during a press call.
“The video is pretty darn conclusive about what happened and it absolutely decimates the Russia lie about what they said happened, or what they said didn’t happen.”
Kirby said the incident underscored Russia’s increasingly hostile and reckless behavior internationally, but added that he had not seen evidence that the collision was deliberate.
“While it is clear that it was aggressive flying, reckless flying, that they were jumping fuel and that they struck the drone… it is not clear to us that the pilots intended to strike the drone,” Kirby said.
“What we do know, what is clearly evident, is that this was intentional harassment.”
Kirby said that the drone was “in international airspace” and over “international waters” when it was intercepted by Russian fighters and ultimately downed.
While this incident resulted in a crash, Kirby said, there have been many other similar incidents in which Russian forces attempted to disrupt the flights of U.S. drones
“This wasn’t the first intercept of our drones in that airspace,” Kirby said. “It’s happened before. It’s not uncommon for them to intercept.”
“At best, it’s reckless flying,” Kirby added. “At worst, it’s reckless incompetence.”
Kirby said it was unclear whether the aggressive maneuvers were intended to bait the United States into a conflict with Russia, and that it was too early to tell if the Russian military was attempting to make real Putin’s false claims that the West was aligning to topple Russia.
To that end, Kirby said, U.S. forces including drones would continue to conduct their missions in support of both NATO and Ukraine, as well as to ensure U.S. security objectives abroad.
“We do not seek a conflict with Russia,” Kirby said.
“We have been, are, and will continue these kinds of flights in support of our broader international security interests in the Black Sea region and in support of Ukraine and their ability to defend themselves.”