U.s. Drone crash: “we don’t want armed conflict”

U.s. Drone crash: "we don't want armed conflict"

For the first time in months, U.S. and Russian defense ministers spoke by phone – prompted by the crash of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea. Both sides present the event very differently.

After the incident involving a U.S. drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea, the defense ministers of both countries spoke to each other on the phone.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said he spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu about the reconnaissance drone crash. "As I've said time and time again, it's important for great powers to be models of transparency and communication," Austin said. It was – according to all that is known – the first direct phone call between Schoigu and Austin since October.

The initiative for the phone call came from the U.S. government, the Russian Defense Ministry explained. For the time being, the ministry did not give any further details.

"Part of a pattern of aggressive action"

Austin said the incident was "part of a pattern of aggressive, risky and dangerous actions by Russian pilots" in international airspace. Russia must fly its military aircraft in a "safe and professional manner," Pentagon chief demanded. The U.S., in turn, would continue its flights "wherever international law permits".

U.S. has "video evidence of all this"

U.S. Chief of Staff Mark Milley stressed the United States did not want an escalation. "Incidents happen. And we clearly don't want an armed conflict with Russia," he said in Washington. Milley was responding to questions about whether the incident was an act of war.

The U.S. government is considering releasing footage of the incident in order to provide clarification. "We have video evidence of all this," Milley emphasized.

Asked if the Russian pilots acted with intent, he said the intercept maneuver and aggressive action were deliberate on the Russian side's part. Whether the fighter jet hit the drone intentionally remains to be seen. Milley also announced a conversation with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov.

Russia to recover crashed drone

The Kremlin again blamed Washington for the crash. "Maybe those who are not entitled to it should not have flown there, then everything would have been clean," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Russian state television.

The incident also heightened international concerns about an escalation of the war in Ukraine and drawing other states into the conflict. "All incidents that provoke a clash of the two superpowers, the two largest nuclear powers, lead to great risks," Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also commented on these fears on state television.

Russia will now try to recover drone debris from the Black Sea. "I don't know if we can recover them or not, but we certainly have to and we will deal with it," National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said. "Of course I hope for a success."Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin assured that Russia would be able to recover the drone's remains.

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