Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, told Newsweek that the unmanned aerial vehicle shot down by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea aided Ukrainian forces during the present battle.
When asked by Newsweek about the incident in which the Pentagon accused the pilots of two Russian Su-27 aircraft of "unsafe and unprofessional" and even "reckless" actions that forced its Air Force to bring down its MQ-9 Reaper spy drone deliberately and prompted the State Department to summon the Russian envoy, Antonov stated that he "categorically rejected all the insinuations of the U.S. side."
Antonov stated, "I explained the stance of the Russian Federation." "I emphasized that the American UAV that was intentionally and provocatively moving towards Russian territory with its transponders turned off violated the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, which was communicated to all concerned users of international airspace per international norms."
"Furthermore," he continued, "the Russian planes that were rushed to detect the invader did not utilize their onboard armaments or come into contact with the UAV."
In contrast, on Tuesday, U.S. European Command told Newsweek that the Su-27s spilt gasoline on the MQ-9 and flew in front of it until one of the aircraft damaged the drone's propeller, forcing it to crash.
Antonov maintained that the United States was at blame and that such flights were done in direct support of Ukrainian forces engaged in combat with Russian troops in Ukraine.
Antonov expressed alarm about the unacceptable conduct of the United States military near our borders. We are well aware of the missions these surveillance and attack drones serve.
At the time of the incident, the MQ-9 "was conducting routine operations in international airspace," according to the EUCOM statement.
"What are they doing tens of thousands of miles from the United States? The explanation is obvious: they collect intelligence that is subsequently used by the Kyiv regime to launch attacks against our armed forces and territory, "Antonov added.
U.S. military officials have consistently denied aiding Ukrainian forces with intelligence to attack targets within Russia's internationally recognized boundaries, with Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder describing the notion as "nonsense" last week.
Yet, Russia has continued to allege sporadic strikes within these lines, which neither Ukrainian nor American forces have acknowledged nor refuted. U.S. officials have also stated that their assistance to Ukraine would not prevent attacks on land acquired from Ukraine by Russia without international recognition, such as the Crimean Peninsula and the provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhia.
About the most recent event, however, Antonov presented a scenario in which a Russian UAV flew near crucial U.S. cities and speculated on the type of response the U.S. military would take.
"How would the United States Air Force and Navy respond if, for example, a Russian strike drone surfaced near New York or San Francisco? I am convinced that the United States military would not allow its airspace or territorial seas to be violated and would act uncompromisingly, "Antonov stated.
"We proceed from the fact that the United States will refrain from further speculations in the media landscape and stop making sorties near the Russian borders," he continued.
In recent weeks, the United States has conducted several uncommon armed aerial intercepts, beginning with the shootdown of a Chinese high-altitude balloon Washington described as a reconnaissance device and Beijing referred to as a lost civilian airship.
In less than two weeks, three more unexplained flying objects were shot down by U.S. aircraft over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron, none of which were believed to be foreign spy assets. When tensions between Beijing and Washington grew, the White House issued new directions for dealing with UFOs in response to these developments.
And in the middle of these shootdowns, U.S. Central Command said last month that U.S. forces had shot down a suspected Iranian-made reconnaissance drone flying over an oil location in northeastern Syria during heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
Russia-U.S. ties were substantially strained at the beginning of last year and deteriorated significantly following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Throughout the conflict, Washington has provided substantial military aid to Kyiv, prompting repeated warnings from Russia.
Antonov stated, "We view any acts involving American weaponry and military equipment as overtly hostile." "Let me remind you that the United States has already provided Kyiv with $33 billion in armaments. Just consider this number! Unquestionably, the United States is driving the situation into a deliberate escalation fraught with direct armed conflict."
Despite this, he stated that it was vital for both sides to maintain touch, given the high stakes of their forces operating in the Black Sea and the potential for continuous collaboration in several domains that have been essentially frozen since the beginning of the conflict.
Antonov stated, "We believe it is essential that communication channels stay open." "Russia seeks constructive collaboration in the interests of the peoples of our countries and does not seek confrontation."
John Kirby, White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator, told reporters on Tuesday morning that the event will not deter the United States from conducting such operations in the future.
"If the message is intended to discourage or prevent us from flying and operating in international airspace above the Black Sea," Kirby added, "then it will fail, as this will not occur."
He continued, "We will continue to fly and operate in international airspace over international waters." The Black Sea does not belong to any one nation, and we will continue to pursue our national security objectives in this world region.
In addition, he justified the basis for the escalating amount of U.S. military backing for Kyiv, arguing that not doing so would result in a more significant loss of Ukrainian and American lives.
"For those who are concerned about the expense of our support for Ukraine," Kirby added, "we would encourage them to consider the cost in blood and treasure, as well as American blood and wealth, should Mr Putin be successful and continue to push his aims around the globe."
Earlier on Tuesday, while visiting the Ulan-Ude Aircraft Factory, Vladimir Putin spoke for a different purpose.
Putin stated, "Our adversaries or, as I previously referred to them, our collaborators, have one purpose, and we know this from prior decades: to destabilize us and tear our country apart." This is the point.
"Thus, this is not a geopolitical objective for us, but rather an issue of the survival of the Russian state and the establishment of favourable conditions for the continued development of our country and our children," he added. Herein lies the stakes for us.