Troubling Questions Over U.S. Drone Crash Near Crimea… An Inevitable Collision Made in Washington

A $32 million drone buried unceremoniously at sea says a lot about a failing empire.

A U.S. spy drone operating 8,000 kilometers from Washington on Russia’s borders, helping a Nazi regime at war against Russia, crashes into the Black Sea – and yet, insanely, Moscow is arraigned for taking defensive action?

One has to be amazed by the total dissonance among American politicians and media over the incident this week when an unmanned U.S. military aircraft crashed into the Black Sea near Russian territory. The righteous indignation speaks of ineffable double-think and hypocrisy.

Russia was condemned for “reckless” and “unlawful” conduct after two of its fighter jets intercepted an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Reaper is deployed both as a surveillance aircraft and as an attack weapon capable of firing missiles. This drone was detected approaching airspace that Moscow has designated off-limits in connection with its special military operation in Ukraine.

The Pentagon claimed that one of the Russian Su-27 jets collided with the drone causing damage to one of its propellers. The U.S. Air Force says its operators brought down the Reaper which crashed in international waters. Why was a $32 million UAV so readily ditched?

For its part, Russia claims that its fighter jets buzzed the American drone causing it to make sharp maneuvers whereupon the UAV lost aeronautical control and crashed into the sea. Moscow has put the blame on the United States for creating a provocation and called on the U.S. to halt hostile flights near its borders. An effort to recover the drone debris is underway by Russia. Sensitive flight data may show what kind of mission the UAV was really undertaking. Was it gathering offensive targeting coordinates, as many such American UAVs have been doing over the past year to enable the Kiev regime?

A short video released by the Pentagon apparently from the Reaper before it crashed shows the Russian jets making close passes and dumping fuel on the UAV. The video feed is interrupted momentarily but resumes to apparently show a propeller bent out of shape. If the drone was continuing to fly despite the damaged propeller why did its  operators decide to bring it down, if that is what really happened?

It stretches credulity and the laws of physics to believe that such a collision could take place without causing a mid-air explosion of both aircraft, especially considering that the American drone had been drenched in aviation fuel before the alleged high-speed hit.

In any case, pondering the minutiae of the incident loses sight of the bigger picture which is far more important. U.S. and NATO drones are flying thick and fast around Russia’s borders since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine a year ago.

These drones and other surveillance platforms are providing targeting information for the Kiev regime to attack Russia. There has been an uptick in air strikes on Russia’s pre-conflict territory, including attacks on nuclear airbases and energy infrastructure. Clearly, the United States and its NATO allies are a de facto party to the war.

In the latest incident, the American Reaper was approaching Russia’s air security zone with its transponder turned off. That covert mode of flight contradicts the Pentagon’s claim that its aircraft was carrying out a “routine” mission. The inference here is “routine” means “innocent”. There is nothing “innocent” about NATO drones spying on Russian territory while supplying offensive weapons and targeting information to a Kiev regime whose soldiers glorify Nazis and the killing of Russians.

Indeed, it’s incredible that Russia is obliged to expend effort in justifying its actions to interdict the American drone. Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was summoned in Washington for a rebuke. Antonov apparently gave his American interlocutors short shrift and told them they were the ones creating provocations.

Given the wider circumstances of NATO arming the Kiev regime to the teeth – the latest development being the supply of MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and Slovakia – arguably it should be a legal right for Russia to not merely intercept but to blast enemy drones out of the sky.

Can it be imagined how the U.S. would react if Russian drones were flying near its territory with their transponders off? We don’t have to imagine. Only a few weeks ago, President Joe Biden ordered F-16s to fire $500,000 Sidewinder missiles to shoot down a Chinese weather balloon and other balloons that had accidentally strayed into North American airspace.

The danger here is that Washington is a hyper-militarized, hyper-hostile rogue regime that is unhinged from its own delusional sense of righteousness and hubris. The American regime wantonly declares Russia and China to be geopolitical enemies and yet expects to fly and sail its warplanes and warships wherever it pleases as a matter of “routine”.

To some vague degree, it seems, Washington senses the danger of a potential conflagration with a nuclear power. Following the drone incident, the U.S. military top brass quickly contacted their Russian counterparts in an apparent effort to avoid escalation. Nevertheless, the Pentagon chiefs repeated their presumed “right” to continue sending drones near Russian airspace. The same arrogant attitude applies towards China and the unrelenting deployment of warships in so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises in tone-deaf dismissal of Beijing’s warnings.

A fundamental problem is one of deep irrationality among American leaders. They want to have their imperial cake and eat it too. This exceptionalism has been going on for decades. In 1960, a CIA U2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet airspace provoking a hue and cry by the Americans for Moscow to have the audacity to do so.

The current situation is even more absurd. Washington is all but at war against Russia – despite its risible assertions about not being involved – and yet when a hostile aircraft is forced down there is laughable outrage and hyperventilating by the Americans.

Here’s the most straightforward way to avoid a disastrous confrontation. Washington and its allies need to stop arming the Kiev regime and take their military forces out of the Black Sea altogether. Not only the Black Sea, but the Baltic, Barents, South China Sea, and other regions where they are loitering as a global threat.

The American rulers say they don’t want a conflict with Russia or China. Fine. Well, then they should take the necessary actions to de-escalate. The troubling question, however, is that the imperialist self-appointed global masters seem incapable of even understanding why, how, and what it means to de-escalate.

The peril of world war – and nuclear annihilation – stems from the imperial arrogance in Washington and its Western satraps who seem to think that they have a divine right to rule the world as they see fit. There was a time when these criminals could fly drones with impunity over defenseless nations like Afghanistan and Iraq blowing up wedding parties and murdering civilians. Those days are over as the Black Sea incident demonstrates.

A $32 million drone buried unceremoniously at sea says a lot about a failing empire.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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