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US drones gather data for Kiev’s future strikes on Russia — ambassador to US

Anatoly Antonov quoted US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby as saying that US UAVs make these kinds of overflights on a daily basis

WASHINGTON, March 15. /TASS/. US drones are collecting reconnaissance data to be used by the Kiev forces for their future strikes on the Russian territory and troops, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has said.

"The unacceptable actions of the United States military in the close proximity to our borders are cause for concern. We are well aware of the missions such reconnaissance and strike drones are used for," the ambassador was quoted as saying in a communique, issued in connection with Tuesday’s US MQ-9 Reaper drone’s crash in the Black Sea.

The Russian diplomat quoted US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby as saying that US UAVs make these kinds of overflights on a daily basis.

"What do they do thousands of miles away from the United States? The answer is obvious - they gather intelligence which is later used by the Kiev regime to attack our armed forces and territory," Antonov said.

"Let us ask a rhetorical question: if, for example, a Russian strike drone appeared near New York or San Francisco, how would the US Air Force and Navy react? I am quite confident that the US military would act in an uncompromising way and would not allow its airspace or territorial waters to be breached," he continued. "We proceed from the fact that the United States will refrain from further speculations in the media landscape and stop making sorties near the Russian borders."

"We perceive any actions involving the use of American weapons and military equipment as openly hostile," Antonov added.

He reminded the public that Washington has already supplied Kiev with $33 billion worth of arms.

"Just think about this number! It is absolutely clear that it is the United States that is leading the situation to a deliberate escalation fraught with a direct armed conflict," the Russian diplomat said.

"We believe it is important that the lines of communication should remain open. Russia does not seek confrontation and stands for pragmatic cooperation in the interests of the peoples of our countries," he said.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian airspace control systems have detected an American MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle on Tuesday, flying over the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula towards the state border of the Russian Federation. The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation, communicated to all users of international airspace, and published in accordance with international standards.

The ministry added that as a result of quick maneuvering, the drone went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface. The ministry stressed that the Russian aircraft did not use on-board weapons, did not come into contact with the unmanned aerial vehicle, and returned safely to their home airfield.

MQ-9 Reaper is a modular reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. It is equipped with a turboprop engine and can develop a speed of more than 400 kilometer per hour. The maximal flight duration is 24 hours. The drone is capable of carrying air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, and laser-guided bombs.