New York Post

Drone ‘downers’ hailed

- Snejana Farberov

The Kremlin trolled the US Friday by handing out state awards to the Russian fighter pilots who brought down an American surveillan­ce drone over the Black Sea this week.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented awards to the pilots of two Su-27 warplanes that intercepte­d the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drone, clipped its propeller and dumped fuel on it before it went down Tuesday, according to a US account.

The incident, described by the US military as “reckless,” marked the first known direct military encounter between Russia and the US since the start of the war — and marked a new low point in relations between Washington and Moscow.

Announcing the honors, Shoigu’s ministry repeated Russia’s official version of events — strongly disputed by Washington — that the planes did not make any physical contact with the drone.

“As a result of sharp maneuverin­g . . . the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle went into uncontroll­ed flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface,” a press release stated.

“The Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their base airfield,” the statement continued.

The ministry claimed the drone had been flying with its transponde­rs turned off and violating airspace restrictio­ns that Russia had made public in connection with the conflict in Ukraine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States