The United States intends to continue to carry out reconnaissance missions in the skies over the Black Sea. This was announced on March 16 by the coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, during a briefing.
“In general terms, I can say that we continue and will continue these reconnaissance and observation flights in support of our national security interests in the Black Sea region, for our support of Ukraine and its ability to defend itself,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia was not seeking a confrontation with the United States following the incident with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Black Sea, but would defend its own interests. The diplomat stressed that the Russian side keeps the lines of communication open and considers this important.
Prior to that, on March 15, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin exchanged views on the causes and consequences of the incident with the crash of an American drone. The head of the Russian department pointed to the fact of a drone intrusion into the restricted flight zone declared by Moscow. In addition, according to him, the strengthening of US intelligence activities off the coast of Crimea creates the prerequisites for escalation.
Also on March 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that the American side ignores the fact that certain areas of the Black Sea have a limited status for flights after the start of a special military operation to protect Donbass. He added that in connection with this, one gets the feeling that the United States is trying to look for pretexts for provocations.
The drone incident took place on March 14. According to an initial statement by the US European Command (USEUCOM), a Russian Su-27 fighter jet hit a drone propeller during interception, after which it itself crashed in the international waters of the Black Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the plane did not use airborne weapons and did not come into contact with a US drone.