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Monday, March 20, 2023

Southern Command: 'Atypical' activity of Russian naval grouping recorded in Black Sea

by The Kyiv Independent news deskMarch 16, 2023 9:42 am

Russia has withdrawn 20 ships and many of its auxiliary fleet's units into the Black Sea on the morning of March 16, said Ukraine's Southern Command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk, calling it "atypical activity and a number of ships."

Russian naval units currently stationed in the Black Sea include four missile carriers, one of which is underwater, Humeniuk said on national television. 

A maximum of 28 rockets could be equipped for launch, according to the spokeswoman.

However, all the ships are scattered, Humeniuk added, which can mean that Russian forces are trying to find the wreckage of the American drone recently downed by a Russian jet. 

Russia's Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev said on March 15 that Russia was looking to retrieve the wreckage of the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone that was downed by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Black Sea on March 14. 

According to an unnamed U.S. official quoted by CNN, the Russian jet deliberately flew ahead of the drone and released fuel in its path "several times" before damaging the drone's rear propeller and forcing it down into the sea.

Russia denies the downing of the drone was deliberate and claims that the incident occurred as a result of a loss of altitude.

U.S. National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said this was not the first time a U.S. aircraft had been intercepted by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea. 

Kirby said the downing of the drone was "unsafe, unprofessional, and reckless."

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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