March 28, 2023

Kyiv, Ukraine – It seemed like a deliberate maneuver by a talented pilot that led to the primary direct navy conflict between the US and Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Two Russian fighter jets approached A US drone flying within the cloudless, azure sky over worldwide waters within the Black Sea on Tuesday morning.

One of many Russian Su-27s launched a stream of jet gasoline on the MQ-9 Reaper drone, inflicting its cameras to close off.

Then the Su-27 hit the Reaper’s propeller, inflicting it to tumble into the ocean, the Pentagon stated.

It stated the Reaper was a “reconnaissance drone” and carried no arms, though the unmanned plane with a wingspan of 26 meters (85 toes) was designed as a “hunter-killer” armed with laser-guided bombs and missiles.

It was essentially the most vital direct conflict between superpowers because the Ukraine struggle started final February.

Tuesday’s incident occurred off the coast of Crimea, the jewel in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crown that had been annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow has repeatedly harassed that it’s involved about Crimea’s security – some Western observers would say Russia is moderately paranoid – and the necessity for a “land bridge” between Russia and the Black Sea peninsula was one of many major causes the Kremlin began the struggle.

Moscow stated it had warned the US to not enter the zone of what the Kremlin calls a “particular navy operation” in Ukraine.

Russia’s protection ministry acknowledged that the Su-27 jets scrambled the drone because it was flying in direction of the Russian border and had its transponder off.

It warned that the incident might result in an “escalation” within the Black Sea basin.

“The flights of US strategic unmanned automobiles close to the coast of Crimea are of a provocative character making a pretext for the escalation within the Black Sea zone,” it stated in an announcement.

‘Balanced power’

So, has the Reaper’s downing turn into a casus belli, and is there a threat of a direct navy confrontation between the US and Russia?

Consultants say it is unlikely.

Russians are “morbidly obsessive about responses”, in line with Ukraine’s prime navy analyst.

The drone’s downing was retaliation for the injury inflicted upon a key Russian plane in late Februarysays Lieutenant Common Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of the Common Workers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

A drone assault in an airfield in pro-Russian Belarus north of the Ukrainian border focused one in all solely 9 B-50 planes that may determine the places of Ukrainian air protection items.

Belarusian “guerrilla fightersclaimed accountability for the assault, and the broken airplane was taken again to Russia.

Washington ought to reply to the drone’s downing with “balanced” power, Romanenko stated.

“There must be punishment, monetary and demonstrative,” he advised Al Jazeera.

The US ought to use “balanced power that won’t immediate a world struggle and the usage of nuclear weapons.” That is what Russians will perceive,” he stated.

He stated {that a} bigger battle is off the desk as a result of NATO’s major aim in serving to Ukraine is “to not escalate” the persevering with struggle.

The West has spent tens of billions on navy assist to Ukraine however has been extraordinarily cautious about not fanning the flames of Europe’s bloodiest armed battle since WWII.

One other professional agrees that the downing was Russia’s revenge – however for an additional demonstrative incident.

On Saturday, a US B-52 warplane flew over the Baltic and approached a Russian island close to the Gulf of Finland.

“That is some form of a warning,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, a historian with Germany’s Bremen College, advised Al Jazeera.

“However the impact can be reverse – in three months, on the newest, Western fighter jets can be in Ukraine, and ‘retired’ [Western] volunteers’ will pilot them,” he stated.


The drone incident is counterproductive to the Kremlin as a result of it’ll increase the faltering public assist for Ukraine in the US, one other observer stated.

“The drone’s downing has led to an excellent bigger consolidation of US political elites on Russia,” Pavel Luzin, a protection analyst with the Jamestown Basis, a suppose tank in Washington, DC, advised Al Jazeera. “That is the primary end result to date,” he stated.

Regardless that US President Joe Biden stated that Washington would again Ukraine for “so long as it takes” to overcome Russia, polls present that People are much less supportive of serving to Kyiv with arms.

Forty-eight % of People stated they favor navy assist to Ukraine, and 29 % are against it, in line with a ballot from The Related Press-NORC Middle for Public Affairs Analysis launched in mid-February.

In Could 2022, 60 % of People supported the help, it stated.

In the meantime, main Republican presidential candidates, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have stated that backing Ukraine contradicts US strategic pursuits.

Blaming the US

To Moscow, the collision appeared like a pretext to equate Russia and the US as “nice powers”.

“Any incidents that provoke a confrontation of two nice powers, two of the world’s largest nuclear powers, at all times carry very severe dangers. The US cannot however perceive it,” Russian Overseas Minister Sergey Lavrov stated in televised remarks.

A Ukrainian navy analyst stated the drone incident was Moscow’s determined try to start out direct talks with the US because the Kremlin tries to discover a approach out of the quagmire.

Moscow’s preliminary objectives of seizing the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and changing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s authorities with pro-Kremlin puppets failed.

“From the Russian facet, it seems to be like an ‘data assault,’ [an attempt] to start out negotiations with the People,” retired Ukrainian colonel Roman Svitan advised the Nastoyashchee Vremya web site.

Regardless that the Pentagon stated it erased the drone’s reminiscence, Russia may also attempt to fish the drone’s particles out and research it.

“We will certainly look into it,” Nikolai Patrushev, a longtime ally of Putin and the secretary of Russia’s Safety Council, stated in televised remarks.

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