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Austin and Shoigu speak by phone following drone incident
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a telephone conversation on March 15 in the wake of a Russian jet downing an American drone over the international waters of the Black Sea, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not specify the details of their conversation, only that the U.S. side initiated it.
During a briefing after the tenth Ramstein format meeting, Austin said that he had emphasized to Shoigu the significance of major powers serving as "models of transparency and communication" and reiterated the commitment U.S. commitment to abide by international law.
On March 14, a Russian fighter jet forced down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over international waters of the Black Sea.
U.S. National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby clarified this is not the first time U.S. aircraft has been intercepted by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea.
However, Kirby acknowledged that it was "unsafe, unprofessional, and reckless."
Russia denies attempting to down the drone and claims that the incident occurred as a result of a loss of altitude.
Russia's Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev acknowledged on March 15 that Russia was looking into retrieving the wreckage of the MQ-9 Reaper drone.
“I don’t know if we will be able to get it or not," said Patrushev on Russian state television, "but we need to do it ... and we will definitely look into it.”