U.S. European Command has released video footage of the Russian fighter jets that recently harassed an American drone over the Black Sea, dumping fuel on it and striking its propeller and causing the U.S. to down it in international waters.
The incident on Tuesday was the first known physical contact between U.S. and Russian forces since the Ukraine war began.
The video, which is 42 seconds long, shows an Su-27 fighter jet pass close to the drone while attempting to dump fuel on it. After a cut in the video, another clip shows a jet emerging from below and dumping fuel before the video pixelates and cuts out. A third portion of the video appears to show damaged propeller blades.
The video was edited for length, but the events are shown in the order they happened, according to European Command.
In its initial statement, European Command said the drone was “conducting routine operations in international airspace” when the two Su-27s intercepted it. The jet that struck the drone also nearly crashed, according to Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker.
Russia has said it will at least try to recover the drone and analyze it for intelligence, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
“I don’t know if we will be able to get it or not. … I hope, of course, for success,” said the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, according to a translation.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recovering the drone is a challenge because the U.S. has no ships in the Black Sea. The drone is also likely under “maybe 4,000 or 5,000 feet of water,” he said, adding that “any recovery operation is very difficult at that depth by anyone.”
“If there is reason to believe that we could recover something, then we’ll work up options,” he said. “But we do have options, and we do have friends and allies in the region.”