US taking steps to ensure drone won’t end up in the wrong hands, White House official says

Betsy Klein

The US is taking measures to ensure the drone that was downed over the Black Sea won’t fall into the wrong hands, a top White House official said Tuesday.

“Without getting into too much detail, what I can say is that we’ve taken steps to protect our equities with respect to that particular drone — that particular aircraft. And it’s the United States property. We obviously don’t want to see anybody getting their hands on it beyond us,” John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

Pressed on whether the US would show evidence to back its account of what happened – given Russia’s denial — Kirby noted the US is “looking at some imagery to see if any of that might be suitable” for public release, but said no decisions have been made at this time.

He also dismissed the denial issued by Russia’s defense ministry.

“Obviously we refute the Russians’ denial and I think anybody, after a year now, Jake, should take everything that the Russians say about what they’re doing in and around Ukraine with a huge grain of salt,” he said. 

Kirby pointed to the summoning of Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov to the State Department as “one of the advantages of having diplomatic lines open,” saying that in the meeting, US officials walked the ambassador “through the very significant and very real concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional conduct by Russian pilots.”

He reiterated his condemnation of the incident, warning of immediate and broader implications.

“We certainly don’t want to see this war escalate beyond what it has already done to the Ukrainian people,” Kirby said, calling it “inappropriate, unsafe, unprofessional conduct by the Russian pilots.”

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