See Russian fighter jet dump fuel on downed US drone over Black Sea

Video released by the Pentagon Thursday appears to show a Russian fighter jet rapidly approach then dump fuel on a $32 million U.S. Air Force drone that soon after crashed into the Black Sea.

U.S. officials said one of two Russian Su-27s that harassed the MQ-9 Reaper drone clipped its propeller Tuesday, leading to the damaged, unmanned aircraft being crashed into waters running up to 5,000 feet deep. Russian officials claim the drone fell from the sky after attempting a difficult maneuver.

The 42 seconds of footage released Thursday doesn’t appear to prove either side’s claim. The fuel dump was believed to be an attempt to blind the drone’s optical equipment. But a second video released later that afternoon shows a Russian fighter jet making another attempt to blind the drone with fuel and coming much closer — seemingly making contact with the U.S. aircraft. The drone’s video feed then goes on the fritz.

The U.S. State Department called the encounter an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept.”

That incident in international airspace marks another escalation in tensions between Russia and NATO forces, which continue increasing aide to Ukraine as it fends off an invasion by Vladimir Putin’s forces, now in its 13th month.

Poland said Thursday it would provide Ukraine roughly a dozen old MiG-29 jets, making it the first NATO nation to supply warplanes to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has implored allied forces to “Close the sky” over his embattled nation.

Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, was invaded by the former Soviet Union in 1939, effectively beginning World War II. The country has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than any other since Putin’s Feb. 24, 2022 invasion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters they would retrieve the downed drone if military leaders found it necessary “for the benefit of our interests and our security.”

U.S. officials have indicated they’re not concerned the remains of the drone would be of value to the Russians.

With News Wire Services