US and Russia Clash Over Drone Incident in Black Sea

On Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet collided with a U.S. surveillance drone over the Black Sea, prompting the drone to crash into international waters.[0] The U.S. military is now attempting to recover the wreckage before the Russians can get to it.[0] Russian officials, however, have denied responsibility for the incident, instead suggesting that the drone had been flying in the direction of Russia’s borders with its transponder off.

In response to the incident, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday regarding what Austin called “risky” behavior by Russian fighter jet pilots. Austin reiterated that the U.S. intends to continue flying where international law allows, demanding that Russian military aircraft operate in a safe and professional manner.[1]

Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov also accused the United States of attempting to provoke Russia by flying a drone with its transponder turned off near a military zone. He said the drone “deliberately and provocatively was moving towards Russian territory with transponders turned off.”

The incident marks the first known physical contact between U.S. and Russian forces since the latter’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and could have the potential to escalate into a direct conflict.[2] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that “any incidents that provoke a clash between two superpowers, two nuclear powers, the largest ones in the world, always present very serious risks.”[3]

The U.S. has said the drone was operating in international airspace, reportedly west of Crimea over the Black Sea. The U.S. has been warned by Russia to keep their distance away from their borders.[4] Officials in the US stated that the drone was functioning in international airspace, apparently to the west of Crimea in the Black Sea. The Pentagon spokesman said the collision likely damaged the Russian fighter jet, though the Su-27 did land.[5] US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he spoke to his Russian counterpart Wednesday concerning a Russian military intercept that resulted in the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone Tuesday over the Black Sea.

Both sides are now working to prevent further miscalculation and escalation, with Austin stressing the importance of “keeping the lines of communication open”.[1] The U.S. is also attempting to recover the drone before Russia can get to it.[6]

0. “Russian jet collides with American drone over Black Sea, U.S. military says” CBS News, 15 Mar. 2023,

1. “Pentagon rejects Russian airspace claims after downing of U.S. drone” The Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2023,

2. “Downing of MQ-9 Reaper is latest US drone lost in contested zone” C4ISRNET, 15 Mar. 2023,

3. “Russia vows to respond ‘proportionately’ to US ‘provocations’” Al Jazeera English, 16 Mar. 2023,

4. “Russian leadership approved aggressive actions of jets that damaged U.S. drone, U.S. officials say” NBC News, 15 Mar. 2023,

5. “Russian Fighter Strikes U.S. Unmanned Aircraft > U.S” Department of Defense, 14 Mar. 2023,

6. “Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 386 of the invasion” The Guardian, 16 Mar. 2023,

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