Information on downed US drone likely deleted as Russia tries to retrieve it

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Information on downed US drone likely deleted as Russia tries to retrieve it

The United States has likely deleted sensitive information from the surveillance drone downed in a collision with a Russian aircraft so it cannot be exploited by other nations. John Kirby, the US National Security spokesman, said the military “took steps to protect the information and minimise any effort by anybody else to exploit that drone for useful content,” as Russia announced its intention to launch a mission to capture the $32 million MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone, which crashed into the Black Sea. In televised remarks, Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian Security Council secretary said: “I don't know whether we'll be able to retrieve it or not, but it has to be done. And we will certainly work on it. I am hoping for success of course.

” Separately, the head of Russia's SVR intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, said the country has “technical” capabilities to retrieve the drone. The MQ-9 Reaper drone has a 65-foot wingspan, can fly at 300mph, has a range of 1,200 miles and can carry missiles. There are fears that if the technology falls into Russian hands, it would be exploited and even shared with other US adversaries, including Iran and possibly North Korea. But on Wednesday evening, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drone was between 4,000 and 5,000ft below the surface and “probably broke up”. “There is probably not a lot to recover,” he said.

“As far as the loss of any sensitive intelligence, as normal, we took mitigating measures, so we are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value.” Both he and Mr Kirby insisted the drone is US property. Russia's defence ministry denies that its SU-27 fighter jet collided with the drone and that it crashed due to “sharp manoeuvring”. “We have absolute evidence of the contact,” said General Milley, who added that the US was not yet sure if it was deliberate. He would not be drawn on whether the incident constituted an “act of war” .

Lloyd Austin, the US Defence Secretary, said they were working to declassify video footage of the incident. General Milley said the incident was the latest in increasingly aggressive behaviour from Russia, mentioning an incident where Russia launched a missile in the vicinity of an unarmed RAF aircraft over the Black Sea in October. On Wednesday, Mr Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu and said: “The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.” Ben Wallace, the British Defence Secretary, also urged Moscow to respect international airspace. “The key here is that all parties respect international air space and we urge the Russians to do so,” Mr Wallace told Reuters at the DSEI Japan defence show in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo.

“The Americans have said they think it is unprofessional,” he added. Here is a summary of today's top stories. Thanks for following today's liveblog. Please follow along tomorrow for all the latest updates on Ukraine. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday offered Russian President Vladimir Putin his support in the conflict in Ukraine.

In a televised meeting with Putin in the Kremlin, Assad said Russia was fighting neo-Nazis and "old Nazis" in Ukraine, according to a Russian translation reported by Reuters. Without offering evidence, Assad said the West had taken in "old Nazis", and was now giving them support. Kyiv and the West say Russian accusations that Ukraine has become a hotbed of Nazism and "Russophobia" are a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine. Russia's military support for Assad helped him to turn the tide in a ruinous civil war that began in 2011 as a pro-democracy movement. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad awkwardly fumbled with a wreath during a visit to Moscow’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday.

As white-gloved Russian soldiers in full dress uniform laid a wreath in front of the memorial, the Syrian leader inexplicably stepped forward to try to take the garland. Video showed Mr Assad then shuffling backwards as the brass band stopped for a moment’s silence and a clock ticked loudly over The Alexander Garden. Read the full story from Campbell MacDiarmid here Ben Wallace, the British Defence Secretary, has urged Moscow to respect international airspace, after the United States said that Russia had caused one of its drones to crash into the Black Sea on Tuesday. "The key here is that all parties respect international air space and we urge the Russians to do so," Mr Wallace told Reuters at the DSEI Japan defence show in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. "The Americans have said they think it is unprofessional," he added.

The incident involving a Russian Su-27 fighter jet fighter plane and a U.S. military MQ-9 drone is the first such direct encounter between the two powers since Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago and risks deepening tensions between Washington and Moscow. Kyiv accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of trying to widen the conflict in Ukraine after Washington said Russian fighter jets intercepted a US drone over the Black Sea, causing it to crash. Russia said it viewed the incident as a provocation.

The US military surveillance drone that crashed into the Black Sea may never be recovered, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday after the craft was intercepted by Russian fighter jets, worsening taut relations between Washington and Moscow. In the first such incident since the Ukraine war began, Russian Su-27 jets struck the propeller of the unmanned drone and made it inoperable, the Pentagon said. Russia's defense ministry blamed "sharp maneuvering" of the drone for the crash and said that its jets did not make contact. "It has not been recovered," Kirby said in an interview with CNN. "And I'm not sure that we're going to be able to recover it.

Where it fell into the Black Sea - very, very deep water. So we're still assessing whether there can be any kind of recovery effort. There may not be." If the Russians recover the craft, U.S.

authorities have taken precautions to ensure that their ability to draw useful intelligence will be limited, Kirby told ABC. "That said, it's our property," Kirby added, and U.S. authorities will continue to explore recovery options. The downing of a US drone over the Black Sea is "cause for concern", a German government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The US military said the incident was caused by a mid-air collision after two Russian Su-27 fighter planes approached one of its MQ-9 Reaper drones on a reconnaissance mission over international waters. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin called Wednesday for Moscow to operate its aircraft safely and professionally, saying a collision between a Russian warplane and an American drone is part of a pattern of "risky" actions. Washington says a Russian Su-27 clipped an MQ-9 the day before, leaving the drone uncontrollable and requiring it to be brought down in the Black Sea, while Moscow denies responsibility. "This hazardous episode is a part of a pattern of aggressive, risky and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace," Austin said at the start of a meeting of countries supporting Ukraine's fight against invading Russian forces. "Make no mistake, the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows.

And it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner," he added. Pope Francis on Wednesday called for "respect" of religious sites in Ukraine, as he mentioned the monastery from which the Russian-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is facing eviction. Ukrainian authorities have given the UOC a March 29 deadline to vacate its headquarters in the historic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex, in the latest move against a denomination the government says is pro-Russian and collaborating with Moscow. Referring specifically to the Lavra monastery, Francis asked "the warring parties [in Ukraine] to respect religious sites", and praised people who devote their lives to prayer, "be they of whatever denomination". The pope made the remarks during his weekly address to crowds in St Peter's Square.

In an apparent slip up, he referred to the "nuns" of the monastery, which is actually home to male Orthodox priests. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a "decisive victory" against Russia in a $3 billon Eurobond case in the UK Supreme Court on Wednesday. "Today Ukraine secured another decisive victory against the aggressor," Zelensky wrote on Twitter. "The Court has ruled that Ukraine's defence based on Russia's threats of aggression will have a full public trial. Justice will be ours.

" The Kremlin said on Wednesday that relations with the United States were in a "lamentable state" and at their lowest level, after Washington accused Russia of downing one of its reconnaissance drones over the Black Sea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that there had been no high-level contact with Washington over the incident, but said Russia would never refuse to engage in constructive dialogue. The U.S. military said on Tuesday that a Russian fighter plane had clipped the propeller of one of its spy drones as it flew over the Black Sea in international air space, causing it to fall into the water.

Russia denied this, suggesting it had crashed due to "sharp manoeuvring". Kyiv accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Wednesday of trying to widen the conflict in Ukraine after Washington said Russian fighter jets intercepted a US drone over the Black Sea, causing it to crash. "The incident with the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV - provoked by Russia over the Black Sea - is Putin's way of signalling his readiness to expand the conflict to involve other parties. The purpose of this all-in tactic is to always be raising the stakes," Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on social media. Russia has proposed suspending its double taxation agreements with what it calls "unfriendly countries" - those that have imposed sanctions on Moscow, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

"The Russian Finance Ministry and Foreign Ministry proposed that the President of Russia issue a decree suspending double taxation agreements with all countries that introduced unilateral economic restrictive measures against Russia," it said. Denmark will set up a $1 billion fund for aid to Ukraine in 2023, the Danish government announced on Wednesday following agreement by almost all parties in parliament. "The government has agreed to establish a fund for Ukraine with a total framework of around seven billion kroner ($1 billion) in 2023," the finance ministry said in a statement, a project supported by 159 of 179 members of parliament. World number one Iga Swiatek has called for more support to be offered to Ukrainian players on the women's tour after Lesia Tsurenko said she withdrew from her match against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells due to a panic attack. Tsurenko said the attack was triggered by a chat she had with WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon about tennis's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus has been a key staging ground for what Moscow calls a "special military operation". Poland's Swiatek, who wears a Ukrainian flag on her cap during matches, has previously condemned Russia's invasion and said the action taken by the tennis leadership had not been enough. Proposed amendments to Russia's citizenship law would allow for the stripping of acquired citizenship for treason and discrediting the military operation in Ukraine, Russian media reported on Wednesday. Soon after sending its army into Ukraine just over a year ago Russia introduced sweeping wartime laws to silence dissenting voices. It has been extending censorship ever since.

Russia calls its action in Ukraine a "special military operation," while Ukraine and its allies say that is a euphemism for a full blown aggression to grab land. Drones and other US, UK and Swedish intelligence collection aircraft have been operating for months over the Black Sea. They are visible on any decent flight tracking website such as Flightradar24. The US MQ-9 Reaper drone would have been obvious to the Russian pilot and, with a top speed of about 480km/h (298mph), much slower than the Russian Su-27 fighter. It is also much less manoeuvrable.

The Russian Air Force is known to act in a cavalier and provocative fashion around Western aircraft. Read more from Dominic Nicholls here Russia's ambassador to the United States on Wednesday called on Washington to stop "hostile" flights near his country's border, after an American drone was intercepted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea. "We assume that the United States will refrain from further speculation in the media and stop flights near Russian borders," ambassador Anatoly Antonov wrote on Telegram. "We consider any action with the use of US weaponry as openly hostile." A Russian fighter jet smashed into a $32 million (£26 million) US surveillance drone which plummeted into the Black Sea and was destroyed.

Joe Biden, the US president, was immediately briefed on the incident as the White House condemned Moscow’s “reckless” actions, while the Pentagon warned about the risk of escalation. On Tuesday night, Russia's ambassador to the US accused Washington of "provocation" after he was summoned to a meeting by the Department of State. Read the full story here Good morning and welcome to today's Ukraine liveblog. We will be guiding you through all the latest developments on Ukraine.

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