EXCLUSIVE: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul called Russia’s interception of a US drone a “blatant intimidation tactic” and stressed the need for the United States to continue its support for Ukraine and its security efforts in the region.
A Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with a US MQ-9 Reaper drone conducting “routine operations” over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The jet in question was one of two Su-27s flying in tandem when the collision occurred in international airspace over international waters.
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“To be clear, the Black Sea is not a Russian lake. The US surveillance drone intercepted by a Russian plane was operating in international airspace,” McCaul told Fox News Digital. “The US must not be deterred by these blatant intimidation tactics or the pattern of unsafe behavior by Russia in its support for Ukraine or its commitment to Black Sea security.”
McCaul’s comments come as Ukrainian officials claim the incident was Russia’s attempt to escalate US involvement in the war.
“The incident involving the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV – provoked by Russia over the Black Sea – is Putin’s way of signaling his readiness to expand the conflict to other parties,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council . “The purpose of this all-in tactic is to always raise the stakes.”
The White House acknowledged that there had been “other wiretaps”. US aircraft by Russian planes in recent weeks but said Tuesday’s interception was “reckless” and the first to cause “one of our planes to crash”.
The United States is rushing to secure the wreckage of the drone after Russian officials, while denying responsibility for the incident, announced their own salvage operations were underway.
“The plane is US property,” a US defense official confirmed to Fox News. “We take the recovery very seriously, but we won’t go into detail now.”
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John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told CNN on Wednesday that the U.S. military was already taking steps to “protect our stocks” and that they didn’t want anyone else “to get their hands on it.” . [the drone].”
“Without going into too much detail, I can say that we have taken steps to protect our stock in relation to this particular drone, aircraft and its property in the United States,” Kirby said. “Obviously we don’t want anyone but us to get their hands on it.”
However, Kirby later admitted that the drone and its debris “were not recovered.”
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“And I’m not sure we can recover it,” he said, acknowledging that the drone fell into “very, very deep water.”
“We are still evaluating whether any type of salvage effort can be undertaken there,” he said. “Maybe not.”
The US Navy has no vessels operating in the Black Sea, a US European Command spokesman told Fox News on Wednesday.
Russia has denied any of its planes touched the drone and accused the US of unnecessarily escalating the issue.
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“We expect the United States to refrain from further media speculation and halt flights near Russian borders,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Timothy HJ Nerrozzi contributed to this report.
Source : www.foxnews.com