The U.S. military has released newly declassified video it says shows a Russian fighter jet harassing and colliding with an American drone over the Black Sea, APA reports citing NBC News.
The footage, released Thursday morning by U.S. European Command and filmed from the drone's on-board camera, shows a Russian Su-27 jet conducting what the U.S. calls an "unsafe/unprofessional intercept of a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 in international airspace" earlier this week.
Russia has denied its planes came “into contact” with the drone and said the U.S. was to blame, warning Washington to cease "hostile" surveillance flights near its borders to help Ukraine.
The incident is the first known direct confrontation between the two superpowers since Moscow invaded its neighbor last year, and comes at a time of mounting tensions over Western support for Kyiv.
While the 43-second video has been edited for length and not verified by NBC News, the U.S. military said it shows the events in sequential order.
The Russian jet can be seen approaching the drone, before it twice releases a long plume of what appears to be fuel into the air while passing. Then at 29 seconds into the video the jet can be seen appearing to collide with the MQ-9 Reaper drone and the video feed is lost. When the feed is reestablished one of the drone's propellers has been visibly damaged.
Three U.S. officials familiar with the relevant intelligence told NBC News that the highest levels of power within the Kremlin approved the Russian fighter jet's aggressive actions.