Russia’s war in Ukraine

Footage “absolutely confirms” collision between US drone and Russian jet, senior US official says

Russia’s war in Ukraine. Camera footage from the US Air Force MQ-9 drone shows a bent propeller after the fly-by from the Russian jet. (US European Command)

Footage released by US European Command Thursday morning of the dramatic encounter between a US drone and Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea “absolutely confirms” that there was a physical collision and dumping of fuel, a senior US official has told CNN.

However the video does not confirm the Russian pilot’s intent.

“Don’t know,” the official said on the key question of whether the Russian pilot actually intended to strike the US drone’s propeller.

The official did say that there’s no question that the footage confirms that Russian fighter jets were engaging in “aggressive flying” and “recklessness,” echoing what other US officials have been saying consistently over the last few days.

According to two US officials familiar with the intelligence, senior officials at the Russian Ministry of Defense gave the order for the Russian fighter jets to harass the US drone over the Black Sea this week.

The high-level military officials’ connection to the incident suggests that the fighter jet pilots were not taking rogue action when they interfered with the US drone.

But there is no indication that high-level political leaders in Russia – particularly those in the Kremlin, including President Vladimir Putin — knew about the planned aggression in advance, one of the US officials said.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood and Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.

From CNN’s MJ Lee

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