US Moves Drone Flight Paths Further From Crimea On Russian Threats Of "Countermeasures"
Russia is again putting the US on notice after last week's drone intercept incident which resulted in an American MQ-9 Reaper drone crashing into the Black Sea. The Pentagon said it intended to continue patrolling international territory despite the Kremlin asserting it had closed down some airspace over the Black Sea as part of its 'special operation' in Ukraine.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in a new warning has said Moscow will take "countermeasures" against any further US or NATO drone flights over these parts of the Black Sea where the intercept incident occurred.
"We warn them against trying to play on their nerves, testing our patience," Ryabkov said, according to RIA Novosti. The US drone "was in a zone where we introduced a special regime associated with conducting military exercises," he said.
He vowed that Russia's sovereignty and security will be ensured "by all means available" and that "no American drones, whether reconnaissance, strike, strategic or any other kind" will "shake their determination."
According to sources cited in CNN, the Pentagon has altered the paths of its drone flights further away from the Crimea peninsula on fears that another incident such as last week's could spark a shooting war with Russia:
The drone flights have remained in international airspace, but since the collision between one of the Russian jets and the MQ-9 Reaper drone last Tuesday, the US has moved its drone flights further away from airspace surrounding the Crimean peninsula and eastern portions of the Black Sea.
One of the officials said the routes are part of an effort "to avoid being too provocative," as the Biden administration remains careful to avoid an incident that could potentially escalate into a direct conflict between US and Russian forces.
The official said the drone flights would continue this way "for the time being," but added there is already "an appetite" to return to the routes closer to Russian-held territory.
Audio recordings obtained by The New York Times appear to capture Russian efforts to retrieve debris of the U.S. surveillance drone downed in the Black Sea, providing an unfiltered window into wartime communications among Russian military personnel. https://t.co/bwlGCTI4sK— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 22, 2023
We are soon likely to witness more jostling over airspace in the Black Sea, and in response Russia will continue to assert more of its red lines, possibly again by force as was the case with the Reaper drone. Meanwhile the Russians are still reportedly trying to recovered the downed US drone, which reportedly sank in very deep waters.