Russia’s Defense Ministry said it would respond “proportionately” to future “provocations” from the United States, at a time when tensions between the two countries have soared following the crash of a US drone in the Black Sea.
“Russia is not interested in further escalating the situation, but will continue to respond proportionately to all provocations,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said US planes would be flown “wherever international law allows” and warned Russia to exercise caution after one of its fighter jets shot down a US surveillance drone.
Austin made his statement shortly after speaking with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on the phone. The topic of conversation focused on Tuesday’s incident in the Black Sea, when two Russian planes intercepted an American reconnaissance drone and damaged its propeller, causing it to crash.
The United States described the Russian position as “reckless” and “unprofessional”, while Moscow denied its responsibility and accused Washington of operating “enemy” flights in the region.
“The United States will continue to fly and operate as far as international law allows,” Austin told reporters after speaking with Shoigu. “Russia is responsible for operating its combat aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” he added.
The Chief of Staff of the United States, General Mark Milley, said that the Pentagon is analyzing the video footage of the cameras that equip this type of drone to find out exactly what happened.
“Whether it was deliberate or not? I still don’t know,” he told reporters. “We know that the interception of the fighters was intentional. We also know that the aggressive behavior was deliberate, unprofessional and totally unsafe.” “But the actual contact with the Russian fighter… the physical contact, we’re still not sure.”
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, direct contact between the top defense officials of both countries has been extremely rare.
He concluded, “We take any escalation very seriously and that’s why we think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. I think it’s really necessary that we talk to each other. And I think this will help avoid miscalculations in the future,” Chief of the General Staff to the United States.
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