The United States has resumed its normal flights through international waters over the Black Sea following the crash of a drone due to Russian interference.
U.S. officials said Friday that a RQ-4 Global Hawk flew through the region — the first U.S. aircraft to do so since the skirmish, according to Reuters.
Military officials assured the public that the Russian harassment of the US drone on Tuesday would not affect regular operations in the region.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin summarized the incident Wednesday in a press conference, saying, “Two Russian jets dumped fuel on an unmanned U.S. MQ-9 aircraft conducting routine operations in international airspace. And one Russian jet intercepted and hit our MQ-9 aircraft, resulting in a crash.”
Austin sharply criticized the Russian military for its actions, stating that the Black Sea incident was “a part of a pattern of aggressive and risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.”
Russia denied that the aircraft touched one another, and accused the U.S. of unnecessarily escalating the issue.
Russian minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu presented state awards to the fighter jet pilots responsible for downing a U.S. drone over the Black Sea earlier this week.
In an official statement, the Ministry of Defense commended the pilots for preventing the drone from “violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation.”
The statement accuses the U.S. drone of flying with its transponders off.