The US will continue to fly where international law permits, Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin said after meeting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “It is Russia’s responsibility to operate its aircraft safely and professionally,” he added.
– I just got off the phone with my Russian counterpart, Minister Shoigu. As I have said many times, it is important for the great powers to be models of transparency and communication. United States they will continue to fly and operate wherever international law permits,” the Pentagon chief said Lloyd Austin after talking to the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“And Russia has an obligation to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” he added during a conference call after a virtual meeting of the Defense Support Contact Group Ukraine.
Austin said Tuesday’s crash was “part of a pattern of aggressive behavior and risky actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.” At the same time, he declined to give details of the conversation with Shoigu.
Gen. Milley: incidents happen
The highest-ranking US commander, General Mark Milley, is also to hold a conversation with his counterpart, Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.
The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he wasn’t sure if that was the intention Russia was to destroy the MQ-9 drone, although it was certainly intentional to aggressively intercept it by Russian fighters. He added that the US has “absolute evidence” that the Russian Su-27 aggressively hit the MQ-9.
– Was it an act of war? I’m not going to get involved. Incidents happen. Of course, we are not looking for a military conflict with Russia. And I think at that point we should investigate and move on,” Milley said.
Referring to the possible extraction of the wreck, the military said that it is located at a depth of about 1.5 km and probably “there is not much to extract”. However, he added that while the US does not have its ships on site, it has “many friends and allies” and is considering options for recovering the remains of the drone. He noted that it would be a few days before it was clear where the remains were and that only then would the US president decide what to do.
Main photo source: U.S. Air Force