US drone may never be recovered from Black Sea, Kirby says
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. drone that went down over the Black Sea Tuesday might never be recovered.
Kirby said in an interview on “CNN This Morning” on Wednesday that officials are determining if any recovery effort is possible, but said the drone fell into “very deep water.”
He said U.S. officials have taken steps to protect the information that the drone has and minimize any possible efforts from others to take data and limit intelligence value coming from the drone.
U.S. European Command announced Tuesday that a U.S. MQ-9 drone was forced down into the Black Sea after a Russian fighter jet damaged its propeller over international waters. It said a Russian jet also flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel on it before it was forced down.
The Russian Defense Ministry has denied that one of the country’s warplanes collided with or fired upon the drone, saying it conducted a “sharp maneuver” and crashed into the water. It also said the drone was intruding in an area near Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Kirby maintained in the CNN interview that the drone was flying over international waters. He said the U.S. having these types of flights and Russia trying to intercept them has not been uncommon throughout the war between Russia and Ukraine.
But he said this is the first time that a Russian pilot struck the drone and caused the U.S. to need to bring it down.
Kirby said U.S. officials gave a message to the Russian ambassador to the United States that the Russia needs to be more careful in how it responds to U.S. assets that are flying in legal ways. He said the drone was considerably outside the airspace that Ukraine or any other country has claimed.
He added that officials have captured some imagery of what happened and are still going through the video footage.
U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the incident could lead to “miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
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