There is a race between Russia and the United States to recover the remains of a US surveillance drone that was downed in the Black Sea after an encounter with Moscow fighter jets.
Russian naval vessels have been spotted at the crash site, and Ukrainian military officials remarked on an unusual amount of activity in the area.
At the same time, a spokesperson for the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) stated that the recovery of the MQ-9 Reaper is a “priority.”
The US European Command released declassified footage showing one of the two Russian Su-27 fighter jets colliding with the drone and damaging its propeller, which forced the US to down the drone in the Black Sea.
According to a US defense official, Russian ships have arrived at the crash site, wasting no time.
Ukrainian defense forces have noticed “atypical activity” in the Black Sea, and media reports in Ukraine claim that Russia has moved about 20 vessels to the area.
The recovery of the $32 million drone is a priority for the USAFE spokesperson, but no details were given.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that the recovery of debris would be difficult due to the depth of the water where the aircraft was downed.
The US currently has no ships in the region, but Milley stated that they have allies and friends in the area and will work through recovery operations.
Milley does not believe there is a lot to recover and is confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value due to mitigating measures taken.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian military will recover the drone if necessary for their national security.