(FreedomBeacon.com)- On Wednesday, the Pentagon seemed careful not to blame Russia for deliberately taking down a U.S. drone with a fighter jet earlier this week.
Instead, the Defense Department said that more investigation would be necessary into the incident, which saw a Russian fighter jet aggressively approach and then collide with an American surveillance drone that was operating above the Black Sea. That collision ultimately caused the drone to crash.
General Mike Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exited a meeting with other defense ministry allies on Wednesday, at which they discussed continued efforts to help Ukraine by providing them with war equipment and weapons to fend off Russia’s invasion.
Milley wouldn’t directly say that Russia’s takedown of the drone was an act of war. The official word out of the Pentagon is they aren’t sure yet whether Russia had ill intentions and wanted to actually cause damage to the U.S. MQ-9 drone.
The drone was just flying for routine operations above the Black Sea, even though they knew that Russian fighter jets were deliberately harassing the aircraft. All Milley would say about the incident to reporters at a briefing following that meeting was that, “incidents happen.”
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of state, did confirm that he had a conversation with Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister in Russia, about what happened. The conversation was done as a way to avoid having it escalate into something much greater.
The MQ-9 drone was flying in international airspace when two Su-27 Russian aircraft intercepted it. They sloshed fuel onto the drone multiple times and then ducked in front of it in what the U.S. European Command called an “unprofessional manner.”
One of the jets then struck the propeller of the drone, which forced the U.S. to bring it down while it was over international waters.
Many top defense officials in the U.S. reasserted their warnings that Russia conducted “unprofessional and unsafe” tactics in this situation. Milley did say that while they’re not yet sure whether the pilots of those Russian jets actually meant to cause damage to the drone, the fact that they had intercepted it and were conducting dangerous maneuvering on its own was clearly very intentional.
The chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that this incident perfectly fits into a “pattern of behavior” that the Russian military has been carrying out over the last few months.
Milley said that normal practice was for U.S. and Russian forces that were operating close to each other to make sure they were physically separated, while also keeping lines for deconfliction open. Recently, though, Russian military units have become much more provocative.
Similar incidents to this have happened between Russia and some other allied forces from other European countries, Milley said.
“It is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner.”