The presence of US drones in the United States could potentially trigger a response from Russia in the event of an “accidental ‘engagement’ over the skies”, a security expert said. The warning comes days after a $32 million MQ-9 drone crashed into the Black Sea sparking a verbal skirmish between Moscow and Washington. Geopolitical expert Charles Denyer told Express.co.uk the US’s commitment to helping Ukraine is inevitably increasing the risk of the conflict expanding.
Denyer said: “Both China and Russia are without question playing aggressively with the Biden administration, and they’re noticing a rather soft US stance at times.
“It’s doubtful any serious retaliation would be taken by the Russians, regardless, it illustrates the growing complexities the United States is facing in its support of Ukraine.
“What could be the tipping point is an accidental ‘engagement’ over the skies, land, and sea that leads to something more direct, dramatic, and serious – such as the downing of a Russian MIG fighter, an attack on a Russian military convoy, or anything else that unfortunately happens in war.”
The United States has renewed its commitment to helping Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.
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On Friday, they signalled their intention to continue monitoring the situation and ignore Russia’s warnings to cease “hostile” flights in the Black Sea area.
Denyer continued: “The more we support Ukraine, the more the chances are that something goes wrong – that’s just the world according to warfare.
“For now, we are sending tanks, technology, and other support measures, but the United States seems to be getting more involved at times than it wants.”
Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern about US intelligence flights close to Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014 amid strong international condemnation.
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The Kremlin has charged the US and its allies of effectively becoming engaged in the conflict by providing weapons and sharing intelligence with Kyiv.
Some Russian officials charged that the US surveillance flights helped gather intelligence that allowed Ukraine to strike Russian targets.
Following the MQ-9’s crash, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russian General Staff.
The call was the first time the two sides spoke directly since October.
While calling out Russia for “reckless” action, the White House also tried to avoid exacerbating tensions.
Washington has emphasised that they have not been able to determine whether the Russian pilot intentionally struck the American drone and stressed that lines of communication with Moscow remain open.
Russian officials agreed there is a need to maintain lines of communication, but they harshly denounced the US action as arrogant disregard of Moscow’s no-flight zone.
“This is a clear sign that Russia will keep downing the American drones,” pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov wrote in a commentary on the award announcement.
He added: “This decision will receive strong support from the Russian society that wants the government to toughen its policy.”
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