Russia’s Defence Minister Shoigu holds telephone talks with US Secretary of Defence Austin

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has held telephone talks with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, as per the Russian ministry.

It is noted that the call was initiated by the American side. The Pentagon is yet to comment.

The talks come the day after two Russian Su-27 jets downed a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea.

During the phone call, Shoigu and Austin discussed the drone incident, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti claims, citing a Pentagon source.

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 planes 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 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the incident, said that “[they] shouldn’t have flown where they’re not allowed to”.

Earlier today, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolay Patrushev said that Russia plans to retrieve the fragments of the US drone from the Black Sea.

“I don’t know whether we’ll be able to. But the fact that this needs to be done — we will definitely look into it,” he said. He also stated that the drone incident is “another confirmation” that the US is actively participating “in these events, in the war”.

CNN reported today, citing American officials, that the US “erased sensitive software” from the drone remotely before it fell into the Black Sea.

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