US releases video of Russian plane dumping fuel on its drone

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore has the latest developments on the aerial confrontation which saw a Russian fighter jet appear to dump fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone

The Pentagon has released a video of the moment a Russian plane appears to have attempted to cover a US Air Force surveillance drone in fuel.

The video, released on Thursday, shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea.

A stream of fuel is then released from the plane as it passes the drone.

It is believed to have been an attempt to blind its optical instruments and drive it out of the area.

The drone's propeller was also said to have been struck by a Russian plane.

The US military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea on Tuesday after the incident. The video does not show events before or after the fuel-dumping.

The dramatic incident caused concern, as ITV News correspondent Robert Moore reports

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley have spoken to their Russian counterparts about the destruction of the US drone following the encounter.

The calls with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday were the first since October.

While intercept attempts are not uncommon, the incident amid the war in Ukraine has raised concerns it could bring the United States and Russia closer to direct conflict.

The fact that the two countries’ top defence and military leaders were talking so soon after the encounter over the Black Sea underscored its seriousness.

The Russian defence ministry said Mr Shoigu accused the US of provoking the incident by ignoring flight restrictions the Kremlin had imposed because of its military operations in Ukraine, according to its report on the call with Mr Austin.

Russia also blamed “the intensification of intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation”.

Such US actions “are fraught with escalation of the situation in the Black Sea area,” the defence ministry said, warning that Russia “will respond in kind to all provocations.”

Speaking on Tuesday, the US European Command described the intercept as "unsafe and unprofessional".

It said the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in "a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner".

"This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional," it added.

According to the US European Command, Tuesday's incident is not the first time Russian pilots have acted dangerously while interacting with US and Allied aircraft over international airspace, including over the Black Sea.

US General David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said this type of collision is his greatest concern, both in that area of Europe as well as in the Pacific.

"Probably my biggest worry both there and in the Pacific is an aggressive Russia or China pilot or vessel captain, or something gets too close, doesn’t realise where they are, and causes a collision," he said, in response to a question at a National Press Club event.

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