Russian fighter jets staged a provocation against the American reconnaissance drone MQ-9 Reaper in the Black Sea. As a result, the US command lost valuable equipment and received a kind of call to respond. The trick was to understand why the Kremlin agreed to a provocation that could lead to an even greater deterioration in global security.
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, it became known about the damage to the American multi-purpose drone MQ-9 Reaper over the Black Sea. The incident took place in international waters with the participation of Russian Su-27 fighters. As a result, the drone fell and sank. It is known that one of the fighters, who deliberately dropped fuel in front of the American drone, in turn, the other made a maneuver, as a result of which the propeller was damaged.
Why the MQ-9 Reaper just wasn’t shot down
The American political leadership called this incident a manifestation of unprofessionalism and recklessness. But it noted that they would continue their activities in the air and water space of the Black Sea.
“We are going to continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters. The Black Sea does not belong to any nation. And we are going to continue to do what we need for our national security interests in this part of the world,” the coordinator of the Council of National Strategic Communications Security John Kirby.
Kirby recalled that the US flies in the area constantly throughout the year.
In turn, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that in this way the Kremlin informed that it had defined the area over the Black Sea as a zone for the so-called “special military operation.”
“We prefer not to create situations where we could face unintended clashes or unintended incidents between the Russian Federation and the United States,” Antonov was quoted as saying by CNN.
It is important to note that the Russian fighters did not shoot down the MQ-9 Reaper with weapons. The drone lost control and fell precisely because of the deliberate actions of military pilots, who later provoked a disaster. That is, the pilot deliberately dropped a certain amount of his fuel onto the device.
Computer model of the incident
“The drone was not shot down with the use of weapons, it was disabled by certain actions. Therefore, we did not see any effective response, except for political statements. Believe me, in the United States everything is clear according to the instructions – what kind of military action, the use of weapons, what should be the response This did not happen, so now these are just statements,” military expert Petr Chernik notes to Focus.
Recall that the MQ-9 Reaper drone is a modern development of the United States. Its first flight took place in early 2001, and the cost of one unit reaches more than $10 million, excluding carrier equipment. The maximum flight duration of the MQ-9 Reaper UAV is from 28 to 33 hours.
This is not the first loss of the US MQ-9 Reaper – in 2017 and 2019, drones were shot down in Yemen. Last year, a reconnaissance aircraft crashed while landing at a Romanian military base.
Why Putin ordered to shoot down an American drone
The destruction of a valuable American intelligence officer, who was systematically in the airspace over the Black Sea, is necessary, first of all, for the Russian internal user. The Kremlin needs to show victory over the collective West and the determination of its intentions to protect the territory. They are well aware that the incident will provoke some kind of escalation from NATO – representatives of the Alliance almost every time emphasize that they do not seek any armed confrontation with the Russian Federation. As of the afternoon of March 15, NATO officials have not publicly commented on the situation.
Very restrained statements were made from defense ministers of US allies outside NATO – in AUKUS. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Moscow must respect international airspace.
“The key here is that all parties respect international airspace, and we encourage the Russians to do this. The Americans said they consider it unprofessional,” the minister said in a Reuters comment.
His Australian colleague Richard Marles noted that the Russian Federation continues to play against the rules.
“I think this is again an example of Russia not playing by the rules, which, in fact, is at stake in the entire conflict in Ukraine. Russia should explain something in terms of how it acted on this drone” , the minister said.
Recall that the AUKUS defense pact was created in September 2021 between Australia, the UK and the US. Actually their abbreviations are taken out in the name – Australia, United Kingdom, United States.
“Putin has a catastrophic defeat in Ukraine, they cannot achieve anything, even take Bakhmut. Therefore, an explanation is needed why the so-called SVO has dragged on. propaganda launches narratives that the war in Ukraine is going on with NATO. Simonyan has already stated that Ukraine was defeated in two days, and now they are at war with NATO. This is a product for the internal Russian user, the necessary victories that they are trying to create even in this way, “explains Chernik . .
According to political expert Dmitry Snegirev, in this way the Kremlin is trying to act preventively on the announced Ukrainian counteroffensive. There is a kind of game to raise the stakes and the tension of the situation.
“Russia is going for broke on the eve of the Ukrainian counter-offensive. In this way, they are trying to mark their red lines, they say Crimea is the sovereign territory of the Russian Federation, any actions there will stumble upon a decisive response. This is a kind of Cold War tactic, launching military scarecrows” , — says the publication of the expert.
Experts remind that such behavior is inherent in the Russian totalitarian political elite. A similar situation occurred in the late 80s of the last century between Soviet and American warships. We are talking about a side collision in February 1988 in the Black Sea of the ships “Bezzavetny” and SKR-6 from the “Yorktown” and “Caron”. Or a more recent provocation against the British warship HMS Defender, which was sailing from Odessa to Georgia in 2021 because of the coastal waters of the temporarily occupied Crimea.
How Washington will respond to the incident
Experts interviewed by Focus are sure that the US response to the provocation of the Russian Federation will not dry up only with political statements and diplomatic meetings. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has constantly violated international law and provoked NATO allies. However, this answer may not necessarily be anytime soon.
“In my opinion, all political forces in the American establishment are now becoming more active in favor of transferring additional weapons to Ukraine. We are talking about fighter jets, long-range missiles of the ATACMS type and electronic warfare. In addition, this will be a modification of the sanctions in order to completely block the possibility of circumventing them” . First of all, this concerns the entry into the territory of the Russian Federation of microcircuits that are necessary in the military industry,” says Chernik.
Dmitry Snegirev suggests that this will be a combined response, including increased economic sanctions, increased material and technical assistance for Ukraine.
“That is, we can finally get the weapons that we have been asking for for a long time. We are talking about the aviation component and long-range missiles. The creation of a certain aviation coalition on the transfer of fighters to Ukraine,” the expert notes.
Recall that the United States does not exclude the possibility of transferring modern combat fighters to Ukraine. One option is to allow re-export from other countries. By the way, by the end of 2022, the Australian Air Force plans to decommission its F / A-18A / B Hornet fighters. They are now being actively replaced by modern F-35A Lightnings II multirole fighters.
The main reason for the delay in the transfer of ATACMS long-range missiles to Ukraine is precisely the fear that this decision will be an aggressive step on the part of Washington. However, a daring attack on an American reconnaissance drone in international airspace could become a kind of whitewash incident for Biden.
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