Russian ships spotted in Black Sea amid US drone recovery efforts

?The race is on between Russia and the United States to recover the remains of a US surveillance drone that was downed in the Black Sea after an encounter with Moscow fighter jets.

A number of Russian naval vessels have been spotted at the crash site as Ukrainian military officials remarked on an unusual amount of activity in the area.

At the same time, a spokesperson for the US Air Forces in Europe ?(USAFE) ?said the recovery of the MQ-9 Reaper that the US had to ditch in the Black Sea on Tuesday is a “priority.”

The new developments come as dramatic declassified footage released by the US European Command on Thursday shows one of the two Russian Su-27 fighter jets colliding with the drone and damaging its propeller.

The damage forced the US to down the drone in the Black Sea. Russian naval ships, showed in the Black Sea on Feb. 16, 2022, have been spotted at where a US surveillance drone had to be downed earlier this week. REUTERS Video footage released by the US military on Thursday shows the encounter between the MQ-9 Reaper drone and a Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Black Sea on Tuesday. AP The footage was captured by the underside camera of the MQ-9 Reaper drone as one of two Su-27 fighter jets attempted to spray it with jet fuel.AP Gen. Mark Miley said it “remains to be seen” whether the downing was intentional.via REUTERS

Russian ships have arrived at the crash site, Fox News reported on Thursday, citing a US defense official.

“They wasted no time,” the official said.
Ukrainian defense forces said they have noticed “atypical activity” in the Black Sea and said Russia has moved about 20 vessels to the area, according to media reports in Ukraine.  

We are carefully monitoring the naval group in the Black Sea and the enemys actions. Atypical activity and the number of ship grouping were recorded,” Ukraine’s Southern Defense Forces spokeswoman ??Natalia Humeniuk said.  ???

“Currently, there are 20 [naval] units in the Black Sea, including four missile carriers one of which is underwater 28 missiles, at most, can be equipped for launch, she said.   On the second try, the jet collides with the drones rear propeller, and the screen pixelates as communication goes down.via REUTERS

T?he USAFE spokesperson would not go into details but said the recovery of the $32 million drone is a “priority.”

??We take the protection and recovery of this aircraft very seriously, but the aircraft has not been recovered at this time, ?the spokesperson said in a statement? to The Hill?.

The C?hairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters on Wednesday that recovery of debris would be difficult because of the depth of the water where the aircraft was downed.? A man films Russian Navy’s warships ahead of the Navy Day parade in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea July 23, 2021. REUTERS

“It’s probably about maybe 4,000 or 5,000 feet of water, something like that. So any recovery operation is very difficult at that depth by anyone,” ?he said.

A?nd while the US currently has no ships in the region, “we do have a lot of allies and friends in the area. We’ll work through recovery operations,” ?Milley said.

He also said he doesn’t believe there’s a “lot to recover,” and addressing the possibility of losing sensitive intelligence pointed out that “we did take mitigating measures.” In this handout image from the U.S. Navy, an MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned maritime surveillance drone flies over the USS Coronado in the Pacific Ocean during a drill April 21, 2021. AP

“?S?o we are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value?,” Milley said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military will recover the drone if it’s necessary for their own national security. 

“This is the prerogative of the military. If they deem it necessary to do that in the Black Sea for our interests and for our security, they will deal with that,” ?Peskov said Thursday, according to Russian news outlet Tass.



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