The downing of the drone marked the first time Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine….reports Asian Lite News
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had a conversation with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, marking the first contact between the two since October. This was after the Russian Su-27 fighter jet downed an American military drone over the Black Sea.
The downing of the drone marked the first time Russian and US military aircraft have come into direct physical contact since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, also spoke with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces.
In a press briefing at the Pentagon, Austin emphasised the seriousness with which any potential escalation of the situation is being taken.
He stressed the importance of keeping the lines of communication open between the two countries and preventing any miscalculations from occurring in the future.
“I think it’s really key that we’re able to pick up the phone and engage each other,” he added.
Austin sticks with international law
Austin told Russia that their aircraft will continue to “fly and operate wherever international law allows.”
In the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, Austin said this “episode is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions in international airspace”.
“So make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows. And it is incumbent upon Russia to operate as military aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” he added.
Russia warns of equal response
Russia will continue to react proportionately to any future US ‘provocations’ similar to the flight of US drones near the Russian border, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said a day after the incident over the Black Sea, TASS reported.
Austin and Shoigu exchanged opinions about the causes and consequences of the incident with the US unmanned aerial vehicle.
“The focus was made on an exchange of opinions about the causes and consequences of the incident with the US unmanned aerial vehicle that crashed into the Black Sea on March 14 of this year,” the ministry said.
The ministry said Shoigu stated that the incident had been caused by US moves that disrespected the flight restrictions, which Russia established for a certain area due to the special operation, and by enhanced intelligence gathering directed against Russia.
During their telephonic conversation, Shoigu told Austin that the drone incident was caused by the US failure to respect flight restrictions that Russia set for certain areas, TASS reported citing Defence Ministry.
Shoigu stated flights by US drones near the Crimean coastline are provocative, creating conditions for the situation to escalate, the Russian ministry said.
Austin was the first cabinet member in the administration to directly address the incident, which happened on Tuesday when two Russian Su-27 aircraft intercepted a US MQ-9 Reaper drone, CNN reported.
On Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry said the US drone, an MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle, was spotted flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula, in violation of the boundaries of the area of the temporary airspace regime established during the special operation.
Meanwhile, the US State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to convey “our strong objections”, department spokesman Ned Price, reported CNN.
Price also stated that US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy “has conveyed a strong message to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. (with inputs from ANI)