Russian ambassador says US aircraft have no business being near Russian border

Josh Pennington and Radina Gigova

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Ambassador to the US, said Tuesday that Russia does not want “confrontation” with the US but “as we see it, American aircraft have no business being near the Russian border.”

Talking to reporters after he was summoned to the State Department following an incident that led to the downing of a US Reaper drone over the Black Sea, Antonov asked, “Could you imagine if such a UAV appeared suddenly close to New York or San Francisco?”

“Can you imagine the reaction of the US press, the Pentagon, to this drone? What kind of drone was it? Think about this before summoning me to the State Department. It’s a multipurpose [drone], with strike capabilities of up to a 1,700 kilograms explosive payload,” he said. “Tell me how any MoD of any country would react to the threat of such danger appearing along their borders?”

Antonov did say he wanted to point out “how professional the Russian pilots were in their actions. No contact was made, nor were any weapons used by our fighter jets.”

“I think it’s better that we discuss at the State Department avenues of cooperation and mutual action, but unfortunately, my communication with the State Department lately has just been to address their protests about the actions of the Russian Federation,” he said.
“The Russian Federation is not interested in confrontation. The Russian side is interested in pragmatic relations with the USA in the interests of both the Russian and American people.”

Some background: The Reaper drone was flying over international waters when one of two Russian jets intentionally flew in front of and dumped fuel on the unmanned drone several times, according to the US European Command. The aircraft then hit the propeller of the drone, prompting US forces to bring the MQ-9 drone down in international waters.

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder added Tuesday that the Russian aircraft flew “in the vicinity” of the drone for 30 to 40 minutes before colliding just after 7 a.m. Central European Time.


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