Russian fighter jet’s collision with US drone was approved at ‘highest levels’ of Russian government: Report

The “highest levels” of the Russian government approved Tuesday’s incident that saw a Russian fighter jet collide with a U.S. reaper drone over the Black Sea, according to a new report.  The decision on the drone went to the topmost level at the Kremlin in Moscow, three U.S. officials told NBC News. One clarified that there was not any indication that the decision had gone all the way to President Vladimir Putin himself, however. The incident saw two Russian jets acting aggressively toward a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone as it flew over international waters. At least one jet sprayed fuel over the drone in an apparent attempt to knock it off course or disable its surveillance equipment, but to no avail. Ultimately, one of the jets clipped the drone’s propeller, forcing it to go down into the sea. RUSSIA, US EXCHANGE BARBS IN DIPLOMATIC CLASH DAY AFTER RUN-IN AS QUAD LEADERS DISCUSS REGIONAL SECURITY UKRAINE WAS THE 3RD-LARGEST IMPORTER OF ARMS IN 2022, THANKS TO AID FROM US, EUROPE The incident came just hours before the U.K. and Germany scrambled fighter jets to intercept two Russian aircraft flying near Estonia late Tuesday. The Russian aircraft, a Russian Il-78 Midas refueling plane and an Antonov 148 military transport, approached NATO airspace without contacting Estonian authorities. The incident was the first time the U.K. and Germany have conducted a joint air intercept as part of the NATO treaty. “NATO continues to form the bedrock of our collective security,” U.K. Armed Forces minister James Heappey said in a statement. “This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to NATO’s borders, whilst demonstrating our combined strength.” The two aircraft never entered NATO airspace and stayed within Russia’s borders. The downed MQ-9 drone cost the U.S. $32 million, and Russian forces are currently working to recover the downed craft. The U.S. is unlikely to make its own recovery effort.
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