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Russia threatens unspecified measures in response to US drone flights over the Black Sea

Russia threatens unspecified measures in response to US drone flights over the Black Sea
Russia threatens unspecified measures in response to US drone flights over the Black Sea

The Russian Defense Minister has instructed his government to prepare a “response” to US drone flights over the Black Sea, the ministry said on Friday. This was apparently a warning that Moscow might take violent measures to repel the American reconnaissance aircraft.

The Russian Defense Ministry recently noted an “increasing intensity” of US drones over the Black Sea, saying they were “conducting reconnaissance and targeting for precision weapons that the Ukrainian military has received from Western countries for attacks on Russian facilities.”

“It shows an increased commitment by the United States and other NATO countries in the conflict in Ukraine on the side of the Kyiv regime,” the ministry said in a statement.

It states: “Such flights significantly increase the likelihood of incidents involving Russian military aircraft, which in turn increases the risk of direct confrontation between the Alliance and the Russian Federation.”

“NATO members will bear responsibility for this,” it continued.

The ministry said Defense Minister Andrei Belousov had instructed the General Staff to “submit proposals for operational measures to respond to provocations.”

Washington and Moscow have clashed before over US drones in the Black Sea. In an incident in 2023, a Russian fighter jet damaged and brought down an American drone there. A repeat of such a confrontation could further escalate tensions over the war in Ukraine.

On March 14, 2023, a Russian Air Force Su-27 fighter jet intercepted and damaged a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, causing it to crash into the Black Sea. The incident marked the first direct clash between Russian and U.S. forces since the Cold War.

The Pentagon and the US European Command said after the incident that two Russian Su-27 aircraft had dumped fuel on the MQ-9, which was conducting a routine surveillance mission over the Black Sea in international airspace.

The Russian Defense Ministry said at the time that the US drone had flown close to the Russian border and entered an area that had been declared a restricted zone by the Russian authorities.

Russia has closed vast areas near Crimea to flights. Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has accused US reconnaissance aircraft of flying too close to its border, ignoring Russia’s instructions.

The Russian statement on Friday followed a Ukrainian attack on Sevastopol over the weekend using US ATACMS missiles that killed four people and injured about 150, according to Russian authorities.

Russian officials claimed that the United States was directly involved in the attack by providing intelligence and targeting and threatened retaliation.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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