Incident Over the Black Sea

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Incident Over the Black Sea

Post by Sertorio » Wed Mar 15, 2023 3:03 am

Kremlin Blames US For Crashed Drone: 'Flying With Transponders Off Towards Russian Border'
by Tyler Durden - TUESDAY, MAR 14, 2023 - 07:10 PM ... ussian-jet

Update(1510ET): After nearly two hours since the story first broke in international press, the Kremlin has issued its version of events concerning the US drone crash in the Black Sea Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry said nothing about the Pentagon's allegations that a Russian Su-27 aircraft dumped fuel on the MQ-9 drone, but instead blamed the pair of Russian jets' erratic maneuvering for the collision.

"US drone MQ-9 fell into the Black Sea on Tuesday morning due to its own sharp maneuvering, Russian fighters did not come into contact with it and did not use weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said," according to Russian media. The statement is as follows [emphasis ours]:

"As a result of sharp maneuvering around 09:30 Moscow time [06:30 GMT], unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 went into an uncontrolled flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface. The Russian fighters did not use airborne weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle and returned safely to their home airfield" the ministry said.

The Russian fighters had been scrambled in response to the drone being picked up on radar: "The ministry clarified that on the morning of March 14, the airspace control of the Russian Aerospace Forces had recorded the flight of US unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 over the Black Sea in the region of the Crimean peninsula in the direction of the Russian state border." However, the ministry further noted that the UAV had been flying with its transponders turned off while headed towards Russia's border.

Interestingly, the Kremlin is accusing the Pentagon of ignoring military-to-military protocols related to the war in Ukraine, established in order to avoid inadvertent NATO-Russia clashes:

The flight of the drone "was carried out with transponders turned off, violating the boundaries of the area of the temporary regime for the use of airspace, established for the purpose of conducting a special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace and published in accordance with international standards," the MoD said.

So given the Russian side has confirmed there was no shootdown, both sides can collectively breath a sigh of relief for now, given this was a highly dangerous incident that had the potential to unleash a shooting war as the two superpower rivals continue crisscrossing airspace over the Black Sea, not far from frontline fighting in Ukraine.
Russia can legitimately claim that the US drones are participating in offensive actions against Russia (supplying the Ukraine with intelligence which is used in offensive actions) and therefore it can - and should - shoot them all down.

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Re: Incident Over the Black Sea

Post by Sertorio » Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:10 am

by Larry Johnson - 15 March 2023 ... o-ukraine/

There are still a number of unanswered questions about the incident that downed the MQ9 Predator off the coast of Crimea on Tuesday. Let us start with the facts:

- The MQ9 drone was conducting an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission in international air space off the coast of Crimea.
- The MQ9 turned off its Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder.
- Russian air defense systems were tracking the drone.
- Russian jet fighters were scrambled to intercept the drone.
- The United States and NATO have been flying drones along the Crimea coast for more than a year.
- The drone was brought down without a shot being fired by the Russian combat jet fighters.

So far the United States and Russian military are sticking with the same story — i.e, one of the planes clipped the drone’s propeller accidentally, which cause the drone to crash.

We are in full blown Kabuki theater. The United States insists this drone was harmless, just minding its own business, when an incompetent Russian pilot failed to control his plane. Russia insists there was no contact with the drone and claimed the drone turned sharply and fell from the sky.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments on the incident makes it clear Russia viewed this drone as a threat to its security:

"Our military gave an assessment, which was reproduced by our Ambassador in Washington, Alexander Antonov. He outlined, including to journalists, how we regard this from the point of view of global security. He was invited to the US State Department, where he was presented with completely unfounded claims regarding the violation of the freedom of aeronautics.

You have heard representatives of the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff say that the United States will continue to fly wherever it pleases “in accordance with international law.”

Russia’s Ambassador in Washington reacted sharply to calls by American officials, specifically Senator Lindsey Graham, to shoot down a Russian jet interfering with a U.S. drone:

“ Intentionally attacking a Russian aircraft in neutral airspace is not just a crime under international law, but also an open declaration of war on the largest nuclear power ,” he warned. “ An armed clash between Russia and the United States would be radically different from a proxy war that the Americans wage remotely against us in Ukraine. Is the Capitol ready to expose American citizens and the international community to the risk of all-out nuclear war? Answer, dear senator! “

If you look closely at the picture of the MQ9 Reaper above you will see that it is almost impossible for a Russian jet to just “hit” the propeller without causing other damage to the drone. That kind of impact would have caused the drone to start tumbling, probably end over end.

The U.S. claims to have video footage of the incident. Really? Then why has it not been released. If the video supports this U.S. account of the incident this would be a major PR coup. It would expose the Russian Ambassador lying for his country (this would not be unique to Russia, all Ambassadors from all countries are known to lie from time to time). Russia also has video footage from both planes involved in the intercept. Why is that video not being released?

One possible explanation, the Russians used some kind of electronic weapon system that disabled the drone and caused it to crash. Russia does not want to release any footage that would show the drone being disabled.

I am confident this action was planned by Russia in advance. They chose the time and place to bring the drone down because they had their naval recovery vessels already in place to pick up the wreckage. If Russia recovers the intelligence sensors on that bird it will be able to analyze and develop counter measures to hinder future collection.

I think the United States and NATO are going to rethink their use of drones in the Black Sea area of operations. Russia laid down a clear marker that it is not going to allow untrammeled intelligence collection that can be used for planning and operations against Russian forces.

This is not a video game. Russia, from its perspective, is defending its homeland. As I mentioned in my previous piece, how would we react if Russian drones were flying along the Mexican/U.S. border collecting intelligence on the deployment of U.S. border forces and passing that information to the Mexican drug cartels, who in turn would use that information to flood the weak points of our border with illegal migrants? Americans would be rightly outraged. So why do we think we can do what we are doing and expect the Russians to roll over like a beaten dog and do nothing?

That is the reason for the title of this article. We need some adults in Washington, D.C. to quiet all of the belligerent threats and work on defusing this confrontation with Russia. If we do not, this will end badly for the United States.
There is more than meets the eye...

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Re: Incident Over the Black Sea

Post by Sertorio » Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:23 am

Reaper drone takedown augurs ill for Crimea offensive
By STEPHEN BRYEN - MARCH 16, 2023 ... offensive/

The Pentagon says that the takedown of the Reaper drone by Russian Su-27 pilots was “unsafe and unprofessional.” But the Pentagon has not explained what the drone was doing flying near Crimea, nor has it told the public about the unique capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper.

The Russians say that the drone was in a prohibited area and that the Russians had notified everyone, including the United States, that the area was off-limits. As it turns out, the drone’s location was about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the Crimean port of Sevastopol, according to Russian reports.

The US says the Reaper drone was not armed. The drone has eight hardpoints and can carry a wide range of weapons. It also has an elaborate sensor suite.

The Russian ambassador, summoned to a meeting at the US State Department, said that the Reaper drone was moving provocatively toward Crimea. He also says that the drone’s transponder was turned off, rendering it difficult to track with radar.

Crimea is ultra-sensitive for the Russians, for strategic reasons because of Sevastopol port and because Moscow considers Crimea to have been part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great (1762-1798).

The Russians know that Ukraine is planning a Spring offensive, for which it is reportedly marshaling some 40,000 troops. The target is almost certainly Crimea. The cat was let out of the bag by US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who made clear the US supports strikes on Crimea – a declaration that was celebrated by Ukrainian newspapers.

The US is likely behind the planning and organization of the anticipated Ukrainian offensive. Its purposes are to quickly overrun Crimea and to take pressure off the Ukrainian army in the Donbas area, which is now losing ground steadily to the Russian army, local forces and Wagner Group paramilitary forces.

The battle for Bakhmut is in its final days, and if Ukraine loses it will be both a strategic and major psychological defeat for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Washington is well aware of the dire situation in Ukraine and the threat facing Zelensky and his generals. While US officials keep telling the public and their NATO allies that Ukraine is winning the war, the truth is the reverse.

But Ukraine will have serious problems launching a new offensive, even if US officials (including Nuland) are pushing hard for it to happen.

The Ukrainian army has been taking heavy casualties. Last week, Dmytro Kotsiubailo, an officially recognized “Hero of Ukraine,” better known by his call sign, Da Vinci, was buried at Askold’s Grave, a historical park in Kiev.

He was laid to rest along with two soldiers, a father and son who perished with Kotsiubailo in Bakhmut. Zelensky attended the funeral along with Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who is leading her country into NATO – ostensibly to protect Finland from Russia.

Kotsiubailo was the leader of a “volunteer” outfit known as the Wolves. He had been fighting against pro-Russian forces starting in 2014 and, with reason, they came to hate him and his outfit.

Critics, pointing to its hardline nationalist beginnings, compare the group to the Azov Brigade. Da Vinci, in an interview more than a year ago, insisted there was a big difference: He and his leadership exerted strenuous efforts to filter out would-be members who harbored Nazi, fascist or racist views.

The Washington Post, long a drum-beater for supporting the war in Ukraine and bashing the Russians (no worries about a bigger war or nuclear weapons), this week quotes a battalion commander who says that most if not all of the best-trained Ukrainian soldiers are dead.

Ukraine is carrying out forced conscription, trying to fill its ranks with new bodies.
If the Post report is right – and it reflects information fed to it by the Pentagon – then the force that Ukraine is assembling for its offensive is mostly made up of raw and inexperienced recruits, many reluctant to be drafted into the war.

The same Post report claims that “the situation for Russia may be worse,” but offers less-persuasive evidence for that surmise: “During a NATO meeting last month, UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that 97% of Russia’s army was already deployed in Ukraine and that Moscow was suffering ‘First World War levels of attrition.'”)

Zelensky is also complaining that Ukraine is short on ammunition and other critical supplies. Meanwhile, the Russians appear to have mostly overcome any ammunition problems and continue to carry out operations around key Ukrainian cities and towns in the Donbas region.

While the Russians have not yet defeated the Ukrainians, their main tactic is to trap Ukrainian fighters in urbanized areas, then blast away at them with artillery and air strikes. The Russians generally are having success in creating what they call cauldrons, shutting down roadways and other escape routes.

Launching an offensive in Crimea would force Russia to redeploy some of its forces to protect that flank. However, Russia has a large uncommitted reserve force of around 200,000 to 300,000 men.

Those reserves are now deployed in Russia near Ukraine’s border, mainly in the east, with a smaller number in Belarus. They have been training for around five months.

If Russia moves those troops in a timely way to staging areas near Crimea, they could follow the same cauldron tactic the Russians are currently using in Donbas – but with a much larger force.

US operators must be aware that Ukraine’s offensive could fail. One of the likely reasons the Reaper was operating off the coast of Crimea would have been to target precisely Russian assets there, especially artillery and air defenses but also command centers and communications.

The Reaper is a powerful platform and the US Air Force has them deployed in Poland and Romania with many more in Europe. It can carry JDAM heavy glide bombs and can avoid Russian jammers thanks to advanced electro-optical and infrared targeting sensors. (The Reaper is equipped with the MTS-B EO-IR sensor made by Raytheon.)

By taking out the Reaper on March 14, the Russians are making it clear that these targeting and attack assets will be targeted and destroyed by the Russian Air Force.

Whether Ukraine will risk everything in an attack on Crimea is uncertain, although Washington is pushing it and making preparations. Would the US intervene to help the Ukrainians with airpower or airborne forces if the offensive starts to fail?

Biden and his advisors are clearly frightened about the political fallout if the billions committed to Ukraine don’t achieve the promised victory.

Republican voices are already being raised in opposition to the war. Former president Donald Trump says the war could have been avoided, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis says Ukraine is not a US strategic interest and that the US should not be taking sides in a dispute between the Russians and Ukrainians.

The Washington pro-war consensus is now wobbly. After the Bakhmut fight is over, that consensus may completely evaporate.

The Reaper incident, therefore, is much more than just an errant downing of an unmanned “innocent” aircraft. It is a very dangerous moment for all the parties, especially the US and NATO, and no one knows how reckless Washington may be under the circumstances.

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