Kiev’s military defends use of U.S. drones over Black Sea

UKRAINES Air Force has defended the deployment of U.S. reconnaissance drones after the military incident in the Black Sea.

“The Black Sea is not an internal sea of Russia, as they have occupied the Sea of Azov and consider it theirs,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, Yuri Ihnat, said on television in Kiev on Tuesday night.

The Black Sea is also bordered by NATO members, including Turkey and Romania, which is why the U.S. drones are operating there on a legal basis, he added.

According to the U.S. military, an unmanned U.S. military drone collided with a Russian fighter jet in international airspace over the Black Sea.

U.S. forces had to bring the drone down after the collision, the military said.

The Black Sea borders both Russia and Ukraine.

Moscow’s ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, called the incident a provocation, saying the crashed U.S. drone was operating thousands of kilometres away from home near the Russian border.

The drone was collecting data for the Ukrainian armed forces in order to carry out strikes against Russia, which is an “impermissible activity,” Antonov said.

The U.S. invoked international law that allowed the operation over neutral waters.

A new U.S. drone has already been deployed in place of the crashed one, Ihnat said in Kiev.

The incident occurred on Tuesday at the southeast of Snake Island in the Black Sea, which belongs to Ukraine.

The U.S. had been monitoring and conducting reconnaissance there long before Russia’s full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24, 2023, he said.

Russia denied that there was any physical contact, claiming instead that the drone collided with the surface of the water after a sharp evasive manoeuvre. (dpa/NAN)