A Russian fighter aircraft "did not use airborne weapons or come into contact" with a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
"On 14 March 2023 in the morning, the Russian airspace control systems have detected an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation," the ministry said in the statement, which they released in English as well.
"The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards," the ministry said.
The ministry said that Russian fighter jets "scrambled to identify the intruder."
"As a result of quick maneuvering around 9.30 a.m. (Moscow time), the MQ-9 drone went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface," the ministry said.
"The Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield," the ministry said.
Some more context: Earlier today, the US Air Force said a Russian fighter jet forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea after damaging the propeller of the drone. The White House is calling Moscow's actions "unsafe, unprofessional and reckless."
While Russian and US aircraft have operated over the Black Sea during the Ukraine war, this is the first known interaction of this nature since the conflict began, and a potentially dangerous escalation at a critical time in the fighting.