Russia will attempt to retrieve and study the wreckage of the American MQ-9 drone that crashed into the Black Sea after being harassed by Russian fighter jets.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, told Rossiya-1 TV on Wednesday that he was not certain the drone could be extricated from the water.
“I hope, of course, for success,” he said. “The Americans keep saying that they are not participating in hostilities. This is yet another confirmation that they are directly involved in these events, in the war.”
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon briefing that the drone sank into water that’s 4,000-5,000 feet deep, making its recovery very difficult.
“It probably broke up. There’s probably not a lot to recover, frankly,” Milley said. “As far as the loss of anything of sensitive intelligence, etc., as normal we would take and we did take mitigating measures, so we’re quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value.”
Two Russian SU-27 fighters intercepted the drone Tuesday, dumping fuel on it, flying in front of it and demonstrating a “lack of competence,” according to a statement from U.S. European Command. One of the fighters clipped the propeller of the drone, forcing U.S. operators to bring it down in international waters, U.S. officials said.
The Russian Defense ministry said its fighter jets were trying to identify the “intruder” when the drone’s own abrupt maneuvering caused it to crash.
FIGHTER JET HITS DRONE: Russian fighter jet collides with US Air Force drone over Black Sea
►Polish intelligence services said they detained six people and broke up a spy network working for Russia, Radio RMF in Warsaw reported. A security alert was issued for railways and the national infrastructure.
►The U.K. defense ministry says British and German air force fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace. The Russian plane did not enter the airspace of Estonia, a NATO member.
►Sweden will supply Ukraine with 10 Leopard tanks, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
►Ukraine’s 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade shot down a Russian Su-24 supersonic tactical bomber near Bakhmut in the Donetsk province, the brigade’s spokeswoman, Iryna Rybakova, said Wednesday.
POLAND BACKS FIGHTER JETS FOR UKRAINE: Poland ready to provide MiG-29s to Ukraine in 4 to 6 weeks. Live updates
Ukraine gains ground in $3B court battle with Russia
Ukraine can go to court to avoid repaying $3 billion in loans it said it took under pressure from Russia in 2013, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The court rejected a bid by a British company acting on Russia’s behalf to order Ukraine to repay the loans without facing a trial. Ukraine said it borrowed the money while facing the threat of military force and massive illegal economic and political pressure shortly before Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.
“Today Ukraine secured another decisive victory against the aggressor,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted. “Ukraine’s defense based on Russia’s threats of aggression will have a full public trial. Justice will be ours.”
Austin blasts Russia, says recon flights will continue
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin blasted Russia on Wednesday for downing the U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone a day earlier over the Black Sea, vowing that such reconnaissance flights would continue. Austin, speaking before allies discussed aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia, branded the actions by pilots of the warplanes that forced the crash “dangerous, reckless and unprofessional.”
The Pentagon shares intelligence it gathers with Ukrainian forces. Russia operates warships in the Black Sea and fires missile from them. Tuesday’s encounter is the first physical clash between Russia and the United States, which raises tension and concerns about escalation.
– Tom Vanden Brook
Poland says several nations ready to help provide fighter jets to Ukraine
Poland has received “clear declarations” from several countries willing to supply Ukraine with MiG-29 fighter jets, Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller said Wednesday. Bloomberg and Russia’s state-run Tass news agency, reporting on a news conference in Warsaw, said Muller did not name specific countries.
“We will announce the details in due time. These decisions are being made by a group of several countries,” he said. “Although we have clear declarations as to which countries these will be, we have agreed that they will announce their decisions in accordance with their procedures.”
On Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw could transfer a “limited number” of Soviet-era jets to Ukraine within four to six weeks if a coalition of allies could agree on the terms. Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad has expressed support for a joint delivery of MiG-29s with Poland. President Joe Biden has declined to provide fighter jets amid concerns it would expand the war.
Russian ambassador dismisses US concerns over drone incident
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov, summoned by the State Department after the drone incident Tuesday, said he had a 30-minute conversation with Deputy Secretary of State Karen Donfried. He said they discussed the drone about half the time and Russian concerns with U.S. activities the other half. Antonov told Rossiya-1 TV that his country “will not allow anyone to break into its waters.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine war live updates: Russia to attempt to salvage US drone