EXCLUSIVE: Several Republican senators are calling on Congress to exercise its oversight authority after a Russian fighter jet shot down a US drone over international waters earlier this week – an incident that has many worried about a more direct clash between the two superpowers if the Ukraine war intensifies his sophomore year is going.
“We need a hearing on this. We’ve reached out to the Pentagon for a hearing, of course, they’re probably a bit busy right now,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Armed Services Committee, told Fox News Digital this week.
Asked if he was concerned about the announcement by Russian officials that Moscow would try to recover the rubble, Tuberville said, “Yes, we all should be.”
“The problem I have is … where it happened and why it happened. I mean…these questions need to be answered,” the Alabama lawmaker said. “Very concerned number one why were we there? And we say international waters which is fine but… we have a war over there we have to be very careful.”
The Tuberville office told Fox News Digital Thursday that the senator requested a hearing in his own capacity and had contacted the Pentagon for more details about the crash, but they were not aware that a hearing was scheduled . A Senate Forces official confirmed, “The committee has no plans for a hearing at this time.”
US drone shot down by Russia
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, DR.I., told Fox News Digital it was “certainly worrying” that Russia was trying to recover the debris.
Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, also signaled his support for hearings, telling Fox News Digital that Moscow officials need to know that the American legislature “intends to exercise oversight of the incident.” “.
US officials on Thursday released video of the incident, which took place on March 14, after Moscow denied its planes were responsible for the drone’s downfall. The video shows two Russian Su-27 jets and a US MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over the Black Sea as one of the jets appears to fly dangerously close to the UAV before dumping jet fuel on it.
A statement from US European Command on Thursday said: “Russian Su-27s dumped fuel on the MQ-9’s propeller and hit it, resulting in US forces having to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder called the actions of the Russian pilots “unsafe” and “unprofessional,” but also said it was “highly unlikely” that Moscow would glean anything useful from the wreckage of the drones.
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Russia, for its part, has accused the US of provocatively flying its drone close to its borders but insisted it went down without colliding with Moscow’s jets.
“I think from a congressional perspective, Russians need to know that we intend to monitor the situation to ensure America’s interests are advanced at every turn. I do not believe that any of my colleagues intend to tolerate such behavior on behalf of Russia and that we … take this act very seriously,” Hagerty told Fox News Digital.
Hagerty, who was US ambassador to Japan during the Trump administration, also said it was “extremely worrying” that Russia intends to recover the drone’s debris. US officials have said that conducting their own salvage would be very difficult given the deep waters in which it crashed.
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“That’s top-notch US technology that’s come down there… that’s not a partisan comment. I think everyone here is quite upset about what happened and the aggressive stance that Russia has taken should be condemned by us, I think, in the strong fashion that is possible,” Hagerty said, adding that he dissatisfied with the Pentagon’s “lukewarm” response.
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Fox News Digital did not hear from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if a hearing was scheduled. However, a senior Democrat on the committee, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., agreed that Congress needs to send a message to Russia.
“We must make it clear that we are not being bullied, that we are protecting our national security interests, but we have no interest in escalating the conflict,” he told Fox News Digital.
Source : www.foxnews.com