The US military has released footage of the collision, which occurred over the Black Sea. On Tuesday, the large drone had to be lowered into the water near Crimea due to damage. Although Russia denied that its Su-27 fighter jet struck the drone’s propeller, the video appears to support the American account.
The Pentagon released this video for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to confirm its version of events. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated on Wednesday night: We are still confident in the information we have provided thus far.”
At the time, he stated, the Pentagon was considering which video might be released. Before making video footage available to the public, militaries frequently delay declassifying it. Mr. Austin had previously characterized Russia’s actions as dangerous and careless, and the newly released edited video appears to support that assessment.
A feed from a camera under the drone’s fuselage shows a Russian Su-27 making two very close passes and releasing what looks like fuel as it gets closer.
Public safety Board representative John Kirby told the BBC’s US broadcast accomplice CBS that it was not satisfactory whether the Russian activity was purposeful or unintentional. He stated that surveillance flights would continue over the Black Sea, but that military escorts were unnecessary and would put pilots in danger.
The United States said in a statement hours after the crash that Russian jets had poured fuel on the drone several times before it crashed. US media reported that on Thursday, Russian ships were seen at the location of the downed drone in the Black Sea.
That message was reiterated by General Mark Milley, the highest-ranking general in the United States military, who stated that the United States has taken “mitigating measures” to ensure that the downed drone contained nothing of value.