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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Russia pays tribute to fighter pilot involved in US drone crash

Russia has awarded state awards to two fighter pilots involved in shooting down a US surveillance drone that crashed in the Black Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said, as US officials said spy flights in the region had resumed.

While awarding the pilots of the Su-27 fighter jets on Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu praised their achievement in preventing the drone from flying in an area near Crimea that has been banned by Moscow.

“Flying with the transponder turned off, the drone violated the limitations of the temporary use zone of airspace designated for special military operations [and] notified all users of international airspace,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement from Moscow time.

Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said the pilot award was “a clear sign that Russia will continue to shoot down American drones.”

“This decision has the strong support of the Russian people, who want the government to streamline its policies,” Markov wrote in his comments.

Russia’s award comes a day after the US military released a 42-second declassified video showing a Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepting the drone, nearly running out of fuel, in an apparent attempt to take out the drone to prevent damage to the drone’s optics and other damage. Technical instrument.

The US military said it was forced to down the MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea after a Russian jet struck its fin while flying in international airspace. Russia denies its plane caused physical damage to the US drone and says it crashed during a sharp maneuver.

US officials say it will be difficult to recover the remains of what was done because of the deep waters of the Black Sea. However, Russian state media reported that the Russian Navy found the drone’s wreckage about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Crimean port city of Sevastopol at a depth of 850 to 900 meters (2,788 to 2,952 feet), according to the Moscow Times.

Although Moscow and Washington initially exchanged heated words about the drone incident, the US appears keen to defuse tensions, saying it is unknown whether the Russian pilot shot down the UAV on purpose.

Russian officials also emphasized the need to maintain lines of communication with Washington after the incident while strongly criticizing the US for conducting surveillance flights over its border and sharing military intelligence with Ukraine that would be used in attacks by Russian forces.

US officials said on Friday that its surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea had already resumed.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk flew a mission to the region on Friday, two officials told the Reuters news agency, with one adding that it was the first such drone flight since the downing of the drone on Tuesday.

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