Putin Warns Attack On Iran Would Be "Catastrophic" As US Navy Deploys To Drone Crash Site

Following China's warning this week that the United States is poised to open "Pandora's Box" in the Middle East should it escalate military action against Iran, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has weighed in, on Thursday saying any American military strike would have "catastrophic" consequences.

Putin warned further that US attack "would trigger a surge in violence and a possible refugee exodus," according to Reuters. During an annual televised question and answer session hosted by the Russian leader, he reiterated Moscow's position that Tehran is in full compliance with its nuclear commitments under the 2015 JCPOA. He also slammed the US-imposed sanctions now choking the Iranian economy as "groundless".

"I want to say at once that this would be a catastrophe for the region" — Putin said. 

Image source: AP

Meanwhile, President Trump has been briefed on Thursday morning's dramatic escalation of an already tense stand-off in the Strait of Hormuz which involved Iran's alleged shoot down of a US drone near entrance to Persian Gulf.

Reports say it was US Navy high-altitude drone taken out by an Iranian surface-to-air missile directly over Strait of Hormuz in what the US says was international airspace, but which Iran claimed was over its sovereign airspace. US Central Command (CENTCOM) identified the drone as one of its RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, condemning it as an “unprovoked attack”.

"Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace," CENTCOM spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban said following the confirmed drone downing.

And now, in a pattern suggesting significant US military build-up will continue in the Persian Gulf following last week's tanker attack incident, also blamed on Iran, US naval assets have been dispatched to the "drone debris field in international waters" according to a breaking Reuters report.

Meanwhile, war drums beating, here we go...