Russian Threat Increases with the Interception of a US Surveillance Drone


Heeseo Yoon, Staff Writer

On March 14, American and Russian aircrafts had a direct confrontation for the first time since the start of the Russia-Ukraine War. Two Su-27 Russian military jets intercepted a US surveillance drone, causing it to fall into the Black Sea. The drone, a MQ-9 Reaper, was on its mission concerning international airspace when the accident happened. The Pentagon retrieved footage of the incident, which showed the Russian jets spraying a substance the Defense Department identified as jet fuel. Even worse, they damaged the propeller of the drone, making it spiral into the ocean.

The day the incident happened, Russia denied accusations of intentionally intercepting the drone. According to CNN, the Russian government claimed that its jets “did not use airborne weapons or come into contact” and that the blame for the drone’s crash should be directed at the “faulty maneuvering by the American drone operators.” Moreover, as reported by PBS, Russia criticized the United States for sending the drone to fly near Crimea in the first place, labeling their behavior as an “arrogant disregard of Moscow’s no-flight zone.” The Russian government also announced that they would try to retrieve the drone, even though the United States stated it was unlikely that Russia would get any useful information from finding the drone. 

However, after the footage of the incident was revealed by the Pentagon, Russia has started to show open support towards the pilots who made the drone fall. As stated by The Eurasian Times, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, awarded the pilots with the Orders of Courage, for preventing the United States from “violating [Russia’s] temporary air space.” The pilots that took down the drone also told accounts of the incident. They explained that they “received orders to scramble” and so took off in their jets and admitted to performing “maneuvers to force [the drone] to abandon its mission,” contradicting the firm denials Russia had made against intentionally making the drone fall. 

According to The New York Times, the United States’ government called out Russia for being “dangerous and reckless and unprofessional” behavior. However, the United States did not officially accuse Russia of bad intentions because the footage, while depicting the jet’s collision with the drone’s propeller, did not directly show the jets crashing into the drone, and also to “avoid exacerbating tensions.” Nonetheless, as stated by CNN, John Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator of the National Security Council did not hesitate to express his anger at the Russians for “flat out lying” about their account. 

The United States, while helping Ukraine with their war efforts, has long avoided making direct confrontation with Russia. Russia’s harassment of the US drone highlights Russia’s growing hostility towards the States, and also the possibility of the United States’ direct involvement in the Ukraine-Russia War. According to CNN, the relationship between the United States and Russia are “at moments not seen since the most dangerous moments of the Cold War.” Though the prospect of war seems far away in the States, with growing hostility on both sides, the possibility of a head-on involvement in the war is not low. For now, people can only hope for the improvement of international relations and of no more violence.