Russia Warns U.S. To Stop ‘Hostile’ Flights After Black Sea Drone Collision. U.S. Official Fires Back Defiantly

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The U.S. promised to continue flying surveillance drones in international airspace and denounced the actions of Russian jet pilots who collided with a U.S. drone in an incident that raised the specter of escalation between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine.

But it also sought to signal its frustration with Russia. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Defense Ministry said. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also expected to speak to his Russian counterpart.

The incident over the Black Sea on Tuesday raised questions among some at the Pentagon about whether Russia hoped to deter further U.S. military aid to Ukraine, including intelligence sharing, by harassing its MQ-9 Reaper and eventually forcing the U.S. to disable and crash it into the Black Sea. The U.S. has provided Kyiv with more than $30 billion in military aid and equipment, as well as intelligence that Ukraine uses to attack Russian forces.

Both sides have called for calm following the incident, in which a MQ-9 surveillance drone flown from Romania was knocked out of the sky by a Russian Su-27 jet fighter and guided into the Black Sea. However, continued U.S. sorties open the door for more potential collisions in the increasingly crowded airspace above the Black Sea.

Russian officials said the country would attempt to find and analyze the wreckage of the MQ-9 drone in the Black Sea. It was unknown Wednesday whether the U.S. would also attempt to retrieve it. The U.S. no longer sails its ships in the Black Sea, following a Turkish prohibition on warships imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.