The US military has shared a video of a Russian Su-27 jet colliding with an American drone over the Black Sea, leading to the drone’s emergency water landing near Crimea.

Despite Russia’s denial that its fighter jet made contact with the drone’s propeller, the footage seems to support the US’s account of the incident. The Pentagon had a vested interest in releasing this video to corroborate their version of events.

Footage Analysis and Statements

While the BBC did not view the events before or after the collision, the US originally claimed the encounter lasted between 30 to 40 minutes, whereas the video spans less than a minute.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed confidence in the facts shared so far, explaining that the Pentagon was considering which video segments could be released. It is typical for militaries to take time before declassifying and releasing video footage.

The edited video supports Austin’s earlier statements that Russia’s actions were dangerous and reckless. A camera fitted beneath the surveillance drone records the Russian Su-27 making two extremely close passes and seemingly releasing fuel as it approaches.

The first pass appears to obscure the camera lens, while the second pass is even closer, interrupting the video feed from the remotely piloted aircraft. When the image returns, a bent blade from the drone’s propeller is visible.

Rival Claims and Retrieval Efforts

Although Russia claims the drone was encroaching on its territory, the video only displays sea, sky, and clouds. The US maintains the drone was operating in international airspace. However, Moscow seemed to suggest on Tuesday that it had established a unilateral no-fly zone in the area due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov stated that the drone had breached the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation. The US countered by saying Russian jets had dumped fuel on the drone several times before the collision.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig Gen Pat Ryder informed reporters that the drone was rendered unflyable and uncontrollable, adding that the Russian aircraft was likely damaged as well. Russia’s defense ministry attributed the drone crash to a sharp maneuver and flying with its transponders off.

The Kremlin has not yet reacted to the US video release. On Wednesday, Russia’s security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev mentioned efforts were underway to locate and recover the drone debris.

On Thursday, Russian ships were spotted at the downed drone site in the Black Sea, as reported by US media. Senior Washington official John Kirby said the US was also searching for the aircraft, emphasizing that if Russia reached it first, “their ability to exploit useful intelligence will be highly minimized.”

General Mark Milley, America’s top military general, echoed this sentiment, stating the US has implemented “mitigating measures” to ensure there was nothing valuable on the downed drone.