US European Command released footage on Thursday morning, which a senior US official claims “absolutely confirms” a physical collision and fuel dumping between a US drone and a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea. However, the video does not verify the Russian pilot’s intentions.
The senior official could not confirm if the Russian pilot deliberately aimed to hit the US drone’s propeller. Nevertheless, the official stated that the footage undeniably shows Russian fighter jets engaging in “aggressive flying” and “recklessness,” reinforcing statements made by other US officials in recent days.
Two US officials with knowledge of the intelligence report that senior Russian Ministry of Defense officials ordered the Russian fighter jets to harass the US drone over the Black Sea this week. This connection to high-ranking military officials indicates that the fighter jet pilots were not acting independently when they interfered with the US drone.
BREAKING: The aerial footage of the Russian fighter jet and a US drone colliding has just been released by the United States Military.
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) March 16, 2023
However, there is no evidence suggesting that top political leaders in Russia, including the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, were aware of the planned aggression beforehand, according to one US official.
For context, US and Russian officials have been in a public disagreement over the events leading to the downing of a US drone over the Black Sea.