Russia's Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev said on March 15 that Russia is 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.
“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.”
Earlier, U.S. Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby confirmed to CNN that the drone had fallen into the water and noted that it would be difficult for the U.S. to retrieve.
"We did the best we could to minimize any intelligence value that might come from somebody else getting their hands on that drone," Kirby told CNN.
According to an unnamed U.S. official quoted by CNN on March 14, 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.
In a statement on the evening of March 14, the Russian defense ministry denied that the fighter came into contact with the drone, claiming that the Reaper "went into an unguided flight with a loss of altitude and collided with the water surface."
Speaking at an online meeting of defense ministers in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on March 15, U.S. defense minister Llyod Austin said that the incident was "part of a pattern of aggressive, and risky, and unsafe actions in international airspace" on Russia's part.
"Make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows," he added.