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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. (PHOTOS / AFP)
MOSCOW – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone conversation on Wednesday to exchange views on the causes and consequences of a US drone crashing into the Black Sea on Tuesday.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian fighter jets were scrambled to identify a US MQ-9 drone approaching the Russian state border, and the unmanned aerial vehicle crashed into the Black Sea due to its own sharp maneuvering.
Shoigu pointed out that the causes of the incident were the US non-compliance with the declared flight restriction zone set by Russia in connection with its special military operation as well as the strengthened US intelligence activities against Russia, the ministry said in a statement.
Shoigu noted that the flights of American strategic drones off the coast of Crimea are of a provocative nature, which creates prerequisites for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea region.
Russia is not interested in such a development of events but it will continue to respond proportionately to all provocations, the ministry said, adding that the major nuclear powers, at the same time, must act as responsibly as possible, including maintaining military communication channels to discuss emergencies.
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In this file photo dated Jan 23, 2018, a US MQ-9 drone is on display during an air show at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (PHOTO / AP)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the flights of American strategic drones off the coast of Crimea are of a provocative nature, which creates prerequisites for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea region
Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said the country will try to retrieve the wreckage of the US surveillance drone.
"I don't know if we will be able to get the remains or not, but it is a must to do it and we will do it. I hope, of course, it will be a success," Patrushev told a Russian TV program.
There are technical possibilities for Russia to find and study the wreckage of the drone, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin said on the program.
The United States is conducting intelligence activities in the Black Sea "very actively, using all means" and Russia knows about the US goals in detail, Naryshkin said.
Russia-US relations are "at their lowest point, in a very deplorable state," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, commenting on the drone incident.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the situation, and there were no Moscow-Washington contacts at the highest level over the incident, Peskov told a daily briefing.
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Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov on Tuesday called the incident "a provocation," stressing that "we must be very careful in our actions given the events that are taking place in Eastern Europe."