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Washington has slammed the “reckless” behaviour of Russian fighter jets over an incident which has seen a US surveillance drone downed over the Black Sea. According to US Pentagon officials, the drone was on a routine mission in international airspace when two Russian jets attempted an intercept. Moscow on the other hand has denied any contact between the two countries’ aircraft, and the Russian defence ministry has stated that the MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed due to a sudden manoeuvre while flying with its transponders turned off.

The US military statement read: “Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,”

Russian fighter pilots also repeatedly dumped fuel on the US drone in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”, the US military added.