On any given day around Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, Russian and NATO aircraft and ships, manned and unmanned, zoom in and out of each other, a sure recipe for a superpower crisis on the brink of a new war .
That almost happened this week when an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of US interests was shot down by a Russian fighter jet in the aforementioned area, the Economist wrote.
As it became known, the Russian fighter jet damaged the propeller of the US MQ-9 Reaper drone worth 32 million dollars.
“Body to body”
This is the first time the two superpowers have literally come face-to-face since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and on the day of the signing of AUKUS, the agreement between the US, the UK and Australia to order nuclear-powered submarines from side of the latter, which are expected to drastically change the projection of power in the Indo-Pacific.
“The US remotely wiped sensitive software on the MQ-9 Reaper drone before it crashed in the Black Sea to prevent Russia from gathering classified information, two US officials told me,” US journalist Natasha Bertrand tweeted on Saturday. .
Earlier, the Russian side announced that it will try to recover the remains of the American unmanned aircraft (drone) that crashed in the Black Sea. As the Guardian commented, such incidents are of greatest concern to the US Pentagon because of their unpredictability and the terrible and terrible things they can trigger in their wake.
“It is obvious what these drones are doing and their mission is in no way a peaceful mission to guarantee the safety of fishing in international territorial waters. And, indeed, we are talking about the direct involvement of the operators of these drones in the conflict and against us,” said Kremlin press representative Dmitry Peskov in a televised interview, as reported by the Interfax news agency.
The bad precedent
However, according to Samuel Charapp, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, last Tuesday’s episode was an air confrontation in the pattern of a Russian “coercive signal,” that is, a military action that falls short of the use of force but is intended to influence the behavior of a opponent.
Based on the findings of our @RANDCorporation study on Russian coercive signaling, I would bet the MQ-9 was operating in an area that was of particular military significance to Moscow. 1/x
— Samuel Charap (@scharap) March 14, 2023
The last time a US aircraft was involved in a collision was off the Chinese coast in 2021 when a US EP-3 was hit by an interceptor jet from the other side causing the latter to crash into the sea and the former to make an emergency landing on China’s Hainan Island, detonating a lasting diplomatic crisis.
This time in the Black Sea the evil was avoided, for the next one all possibilities are open.