The US military has released footage of one of its spy drones being menaced by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea.
The incident earlier this week stoked tensions between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers, with the US saying it had to crash the unmanned aircraft after its propeller was struck.
On Thursday, the Pentagon made public a 42-second video of what it said was the Russian plane dumping fuel on the US air force drone.
The declassified footage shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 Reaper drone and releasing fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said. Dumping the fuel appeared to be aimed at blinding the drone’s optical instruments to drive it from the area.
On a second approach, either the same jet or another Russian fighter that had been shadowing the MQ-9 struck the drone’s propeller, damaging a blade, according to the US military.
The video excerpt released by the Pentagon does not show events before or after the apparent fuel-dumping confrontation and does not show the Russian warplane striking the drone.
Russia said its fighters didn’t strike the drone and claimed the unmanned aerial vehicle went down after making a sharp movement.
The US said the drone was carrying out routine operations in international airspace. America is not sailing warships in the Black Sea, but it has routinely been flying surveillance aircraft in and around the area during the war in Ukraine.
The incident adds to the ongoing tensions as it appeared to mark the first time since the height of the Cold War that a US aircraft was brought down after being hit by a Russian warplane.