Russian Fighter Jet Collides with U.S. Drone Over Black Sea, Heightening Tensions

On Tuesday morning, a Russian fighter jet collided with an unmanned U.S. military drone over the Black Sea, leading the U.S. to bring the drone down in international waters off the coast of Ukraine.[0] The incident, which U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said followed a “pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots while interacting with U.S. and Allied aircraft over international airspace,” has heightened tensions between the two countries.

The MQ-9 Reaper drone, which was conducting “routine” reconnaissance operations, was intercepted by two Russian Su-27s.[1] According to EUCOM, the warplanes “dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner” before one collided with the drone’s propeller, forcing the US to bring it down.[2]

The Russian Defense Ministry has refuted allegations of striking the MQ-9, instead insisting that Russian pilots observed the drone being in an “uncontrolled flight” prior to it going down into the sea.[3]

In response to the incident, the U.S. State Department summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov in order to voice U.S. objections.[3] U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy has also conveyed a “strong message” to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4] President Joe Biden was briefed on the collision by his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.[5]

White House spokesman John Kirby said it was not unusual for Russian warplanes to intercept U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea, noting there have been a number of such cases in recent weeks. He added that this is “the first time” that an intercept “resulted in the splashing of one of our drones.” U.S. Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, said “this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”

In the wake of the downing, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the episode served as a “wake-up call to isolationists” about the threats posed by Vladimir Putin.[6] The U.S. Air Force stated that it plans to continue operating in the international airspace.[2]

0. “Russian jet and U.S. Air Force drone collide over Black Sea” CBS News, 14 Mar. 2023,

1. “Ukraine-Russia war: Russian jet collides with US drone, risking Ukraine escalation”, 14 Mar. 2023,

2. “Russian Fighter Strikes U.S. Unmanned Aircraft > U.S” Department of Defense, 14 Mar. 2023,

3. “What to know about MQ-9 Reaper drones and how U.S. is using them” The Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2023,

4. “Russian fighter jet forces down U.S. military drone over Black Sea, U.S. says” NPR, 14 Mar. 2023,

5. “Russian Fighter Collides with American MQ-9 Over Black Sea; Drone Lost” Air & Space Forces Magazine, 14 Mar. 2023,

6. “Russian jet's collision with U.S. drone sparks diplomatic flurry” POLITICO, 14 Mar. 2023,

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