Despite Russia’s denial, the Pentagon published a video on Thursday claiming that a Russian fighter aircraft hit the propeller of a US surveillance drone, causing it to fall into the Black Sea this week.
The 40-second footage was captured by the MQ-9 Reaper drone two days ago when it was doing normal surveillance in international airspace near Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula Moscow brutally seized in 2014.
The footage shows two Russian Su-27 fighter planes swooping toward the drone and spraying jet fuel on it in a harassing maneuver, according to the Pentagon. The video fades off when the planes make a second pass, then restarts with views of the drone’s broken propeller.
US authorities have accused the Russian planes of being reckless. Russia has denied any collision occurred and claims the drone crashed after performing “sharp maneuvers” and flying “provocatively” near Russian airspace.
Highlighting the potential of a Russia-US confrontation, Moscow said the air contact demonstrated the US was actively participating in the Ukraine crisis, something Washington has been careful not to do for fear of escalating tensions between the two nuclear powers.
According to the Pentagon, Russia is attempting to retrieve wreckage from the drone, which would be impossible to recover in such deep water. Russia announced on Wednesday that it would attempt to recover the bodies but acknowledged the difficulties.
According to Washington, the drone no longer carried any useful information.
China, which has not denounced Russia for invading Ukraine, expressed alarm over the war’s escalation and expressed hope that Moscow and Kiev will undertake peace negotiations.
War Crimes Investigation
According to international investigations, some of Russia’s activities since invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, may constitute crimes against humanity. Russia rejected the study, which said that crimes included willful deaths and torture.
In his nightly video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made no direct mention of the United Nations-mandated study. He spoke in memory of those killed in the Russian bombing of a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, a year ago.
“Russian bombers devastated the Mariupol theater, which was utilized as a refuge. Inside were women and children. “Some were pregnant, others were elderly,” Zelenskiy said.
Nobody knows for sure how many people died.
Despite the fact that the war has killed hundreds, displaced millions, pulverized Ukrainian cities, shook the global economy, and produced a Cold War chill in international relations, Moscow denies purposefully targeting civilians.
“There will come a day when those responsible for war crimes against Ukraine will appear in the halls of the International Criminal Court and in national courtrooms,” Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy also made no direct mention of Bakhmut, the focal point for eight months of Russian efforts to march into the industrial Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine, which borders Russia.
Ukrainian military forces were repelling Russian advances on the devastated city. The persistent boom of artillery and the crackle of small arms fire could be heard by Reuters reporters around 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the front lines.
Ukrainian troops had been targeted by air strikes, mortar fire, and tank shelling, according to Ihor, a 36-year-old soldier manning the mortar post.
“You don’t always check on what’s flying over your head,” he said as he knelt in a deep ditch.
Bakhmut has been the deadliest infantry fight in Europe since World War II. Russian soldiers commanded by the Wagner private army have taken control of the city’s eastern outskirts but have yet to completely surround it.
Russia has said that it targeted Ukrainian infrastructure as part of a “special military operation” to weaken the Ukrainian military and eliminate what it considers to be a possible danger to its own security.
Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of launching an aggressive military campaign to seize territory from its pro-Western neighbor.
Grain Export Deal
The United Nations supported Turkey and Ukraine by advocating for a 120-day extension of an arrangement that allows grain exports from certain Ukrainian Black Sea ports to be secure.
Russia has said that it would only renew the accord for 60 days without explaining why, despite the fact that it has complained that Western sanctions are impeding its own food and fertilizer shipments.