ISW: collision between Russian Su-27 and American MQ-8 over Black Sea will not lead to escalation of conflict between countries

The collision between Russian Su-27 aircraft and US MQ-9 Reaper drone, which likely fell into the Black Sea not far from Crimea, will not lead to an escalation of a direct conflict between Russia and the US, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) experts think.

“Russian forces have used coercive signalling against US and allied flights and naval vessels for decades in multiple theatres without triggering conflict,” the bulletin reads.

Considering the fact that US President Joe Biden is on record saying multiple times he wishes to avoid a direct conflict with Russia and given the Kremlin’s “clear and repeatedly demonstrated reluctance to get into a war with NATO”, there is no reason to think that such incidents could lead to dangerous escalations, the experts add.

Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the US National Security Council John Kirby told CNN that the US has “taken steps to protect our equities with respect to that particular drone”.

“We obviously don’t want to see anybody getting their hands on it beyond us,” he added.

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Yesterday, 14 March, Russia’s Su-27 fighter jet and a US drone collided over the Black Sea. The US military said that the drone was conducting a routine mission over international waters when two Russian aircraft attempted to intercept it. One of them clipped the drone’s propeller which forced the US military to down the aircraft. Russia’s Defence Ministry stated that “the Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield”. According to the Russian ministry, “the MQ-9 drone went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface”.

The New York Times reported, citing a top US military official, that the drone took off “from its base in Romania in the morning for a scheduled reconnaissance mission, which typically lasts about 9 to 10 hours”. The Reaper drones can carry Hellfire missiles, however, the drone in question was not armed. According to NYT, the UAV was conducting surveillance 120 km southwest of Crimea.

The US protested the incident, while Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov referred to it as a “provocation”.

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