Russian Jet Crashes Into U.S. Drone Over Black Sea, U.S. Military Says


A Russian fighter jet hit the propeller of a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone over the Black Sea Tuesday morning, forcing it to crash, the U.S. European Command confirmed, amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine passes its one-year mark.

Key Facts

Two Russian jets conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional” mission to intercept an unmanned drone operating in international airspace, EUCOM announced in a statement.

One of those jets struck the drone shortly after 7 a.m. local time, forcing U.S. forces to bring down the MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, resulting in a “complete loss.”

EUCOM also stated the two Russian jets dumped fuel on the drone—which had been conducting “routine operations”—and flew directly in front of it in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner” that they claim shows a “lack of competence.”

EUCOM called Russia’s behavior “dangerous” and warned it could risk “miscalculation and unintended escalation,” following what the military described as a “pattern of dangerous actions” by Russian pilots around American aircraft over international airspace.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday President Joe Biden has been briefed on the incident, which he called “unsafe and unprofessional.”

Key Background

The incident comes as U.S. officials continue to supply Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid and enforce economic sanctions on Russia as the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 13th month. The United States and its allies have suggested they want to avoid a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, limiting the types of aid provided to Ukraine in some cases.


The Black Sea has proven to be a key piece of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Russian forces focusing their occupation on regions of the country along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, just north of it. In some of Moscow’s first attacks, Russian forces took the port city of Kherson as well as a Ukraine’s Black Sea military stronghold of Snake Island, though Ukrainian forces recaptured both last year. Russia also agreed to a deal with Ukrainian officials last July to allow Ukrainian vessels to resume shipments of grain—Ukraine’s biggest export—amid concerns Russia’s naval blockade could cause a food crisis.