The US Air Force has released video said to show a Russian jet intercepting an American drone and dumping fuel in its path over the Black Sea.
The US military said two Russian Su-27 jets intercepted the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper in international airspace on Tuesday before one hit its propeller, forcing US forces to bring it down.
It said the fuel dump was likely done to damage the drone’s optical instruments and that the Russian aircraft flew in “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”.
Russia’s defence ministry denied the claims and said the jets did not come into contact with the drone and that it crashed due to “sharp manoeuvring”.
It said the MQ-9 Reaper was flying towards the Russian border with its transponders – wireless communication devices – turned off.
America said the drone was on a routine flight to bolster European defence and security.
The incident has shown the increasing risk of confrontation between the two superpowers because of the Ukraine war and prompted the first calls since October between the countries’ top commanders and defence secretaries.