The Biden administration released a video Thursday of a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone as the US sought to hold Russia responsible for the collision that led to the drone’s crash into the Black Sea without escalating already fraught tensions with the Kremlin.
Poland, meanwhile, announced that it will provide Ukraine with 12 MiG-29 fighter jets, becoming the first NATO country to accommodate Kyiv’s growing demands for warplanes.
The Pentagon said declassified 42-second color video from the US military shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the MQ-9 Reaper drone’s back and releasing fuel as it passes. The purpose of dumping the gasoline seemed to be to disable the drone’s optical equipment so it would flee the area.
The drone propeller was damaged during a second pass by either the same jet or a different Russian Su-27 that had been shadowing the MQ-9, according to the US military, which then ditched the aircraft in the water.
The damage to the propeller is visible in the film excerpt, but the collision is not.
Russia asserted that its fighters did not hit the drone and that it crashed after performing a sharp manoeuvre.
The White House attempted to find a balance while criticizing Russia for its “reckless” actions in order to prevent escalating tensions. American officials emphasized that lines of communication with Moscow remain open and claimed they have not been able to ascertain whether the Russian pilot intentionally hit the American drone.