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Russia calls on US to halt 'hostile' flights after incident

An MQ-9 Reaper drone (file photo)

Russia's ambassador to the United States says the US military's "unacceptable actions" close to Russian territory are "a cause for concern," urging Washington to stop "hostile" flights near the country's borders.

Anatoly Antonov made the remarks in a post on his Telegram channel on Wednesday, a day after Moscow said it had intercepted an American MQ-9 drone over the waters of the Black Sea.

"We assume that the United States will refrain from further speculation in the media and stop flights near Russian borders," he said, adding that, "We consider any action with the use of US weaponry as openly hostile."

Antonov further quoted US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby as saying that US UAVs made those kinds of overflights on a daily basis.

He questioned the mission of the drones miles away from the United States, saying Moscow was well aware that they were collecting reconnaissance data to be used by Ukrainian forces for their future strikes on Russian territory and troops.

The Russian diplomat said he was confident that if a Russian strike drone appeared near US territories, "the US military would act in an uncompromising way and would not allow its airspace or territorial waters to be breached."

Antonov also said Washington had already supplied Kiev with $33 billion worth of arms, noting that, "It is absolutely clear that it is the United States that is leading the situation to a deliberate escalation fraught with a direct armed conflict."

He also stressed that Russia did not seek confrontation and believed it was important that the lines of communication remain open.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had detected an American MQ-9 drone "over the waters of the Black Sea in the area of the Crimean Peninsula" flying "toward the Russian state border."

The drone was flying with its "transponders turned off" and fighter jets were scrambled to identify it, the ministry added.

"As a result of sharp maneuvering at around 0930 MSK (0630 GMT) the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle entered an uncontrolled flight with the loss of altitude and collided with the surface of the water," it said.

The ministry stressed that the Russian fighters did not use their on-board weapons, made no contact with the UAV, and safely returned to their home airfield.

This is while the US military claimed that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet had collided with the American drone in international airspace, causing it to crash.

US Air Force General James Hecker, who oversees the US Air Force in the region, slammed the maneuver as "reckless," alleging that the incident "follows a pattern of dangerous actions by Russian pilots... over Intl. airspace."

It was unclear why the US drone was flying in the area at the time.

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