Video showing Russian fighter crashing into US drone has viewers divided over whether it was deliberate
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Footage has emerged showing the moment a Russian fighter jet crashes into a US drone.
The dramatic clip, released by the US European Command, has left officials wondering whether the incident was deliberate or not.
Russian officials previously denied its Su-27 aircraft came ‘into contact’ with the MQ-9 Reaper after it crashed into the Black Sea, and said the US was to blame.
According to Reuters, the Kremlin claimed the drone crashed after making ‘sharp manoeuvres’, having ‘provocatively’ flown close to Russian air space near Crimea.
But the declassified video appears to show otherwise, as the fighter jet can be seen dumping fuel before flying very close to the drone.
The $32 million MQ-9 experienced damage to its camera and propeller before making an emergency landing.
It had been operating within international airspace over the Black Sea on 14 March when the incident unfolded.
The US European Command said upon its release of the clip that the two Russian aircraft 'conducted an unsafe and unprofessional intercept' with the unnamed MQ-9 aircraft.
There is currently a race to retrieve the remnants of the drone, with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s National Security Council stating (via Tass): "I don’t know if we will be able to get it or not."
However, he said they will 'definitely' work towards it.
Despite the Kremlin’s denial of the interception, many have been left fearing that a misunderstanding could lead to rising tensions between the US and Russia amid Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu about the situation on Wednesday (15 March).
"This hazardous episode is a part is part of a pattern of aggressive, risky, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace," he stated at the recent news conference.
"As I've said repeatedly, it's important that great powers be models of transparency and communication.
"And the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.
"It is incumbent upon Russia to operate as military aircraft in a safe and professional manner."
Austin appeared alongside Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, who said: "We know that the intercept was intentional. We know that the aggressive behaviour was intentional.
"We also know it was very unprofessional and very unsafe.
"The actual contact of the fixed-wing Russian fighter with our UAV, the physical contact of those two, not sure yet, that remains to be seen."
Though the footage is yet to confirm whether the fighter jet had purposely knocked down the drone, people have been sharing their thoughts on the matter online.
Taking to Twitter, one wrote: "Demolishing Russia's lies about not having attacked the MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea.
"US footage shows Russian jet approaching the drone and dumping fuel on it. 2nd run it again dumps fuel, but hits the drone.
"When the camera comes back on, its propeller is damaged."
Another said: "The funniest thing is they lie about an incident with a drone which is covered in f***ing cameras!
"Surely they know after a dozen or so passes, the operator might have got some footage of their actions."