On Tuesday afternoon, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of collision between a Russian Su-27 fighter aircraft and a U.S. MQ-9 surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.
According to the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept, with one of the Russian jets striking the propeller of the MQ-9, requiring U.S. forces to bring the unmanned aircraft down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless and unprofessional manner.
EUCOM released video footage showing a Russian Su-27 fighter making two very close passes on the MQ-9A, dumping fuel near the aircraft on both fly-bys, and appearing to mis-time its pull-out maneuver on the second pass, resulting in the impact. At least one bent propeller blade can be seen in the video. Defense officials released the footage on Thursday after Russian officials denied the intercept led to a collision.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the incident was part of a “pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.” Austin spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday for the first time since October.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said it was clear the intercept and harassment of the drone by Russian jets was intentional, but it was unclear whether the Russian aircraft deliberately made contact with the MQ-9 – a maneuver that could also put the Russian jet at risk.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in its readout of the call with Austin that Shoigu noted the U.S. had provoked the incident by ignoring flight restrictions the Kremlin had imposed due to its military operation in Ukraine, and also blamed “the intensification of intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation.”
Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, said Russia is capable and would attempt recovery of the wreckage. US officials have expressed confidence that nothing of military value would remain from the drone.
The collision marked the first known physical contact between U.S. and Russian forces since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Poland and Slovakia to Send Jets
This week Poland became the first NATO country to commit to sending fighter jets to Ukraine.
According to Polish President Andrzej (Ahnzay) Duda, “We can say confidently that we are sending MiGs to Ukraine. We have a dozen or so that we got in the ’90s handed down from the German Democratic Republic and they are functional and play a part in the defense of our airspace. They are at the end of their operational life but are still functional.”
Duda added that the first four planes “in full working order” will be handed to Ukraine in the next few days. Additional aircraft will be delivered after being “serviced and prepared for handover.”
On Friday, Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger tweeted that his government had also approved sending the country's 13 MiG-29s to Ukraine. The country's fleet was grounded last year and it no longer uses the jets. Those aircraft would also be appropriately serviced to full working condition before transfer.
None of this is sitting well with the Russians. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the plans, saying that the aircraft would not affect the outcome of Moscow's "special military operation", would only bring additional woes for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, and all the equipment would be subject to destruction.
U.S. Fighter Jets Soon?
Regular followers of Threat Journal should easily be able to see where this is headed. As with nearly all other major weapons systems supplied to Ukraine in this conflict, each began with U.S. officials, at least publicly, saying NO. Once the trial balloon goes up and the news cycles progress, eventually the nos are turning to yes. We have seen this with a number of offensive and defensive systems including HIMARS, Patriot missile batteries, Abrams tanks, and soon enough, 4th generation fighter aircraft
ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin
The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that Putin "is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation."
The ICC also issued a warrant Friday for the arrest of Maria Belova, the Commissioner for Children's Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova initially responded via her Telegram channel: “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.”
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