A race between the U.S. and Russia is underway to secure the debris of the drone that crashed into the Black Sea.
Russian officials announced Wednesday that operations were underway to collect the debris of the downed U.S. drone — the country has denied responsibility for the incident.
U.S. officials say a Russian fighter jet clipped the U.S. drone’s propeller while traveling in international airspace, causing the crash.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN Wednesday that the U.S. military has already moved to “protect our equities” and that they did not want anyone else “getting their hands on [the drone.]”
“Without getting to too much detail, what I can say is that we’ve taken steps to protect our equities with respect to that particular drone, that particular aircraft and its United States property,” Kirby said. “We obviously don’t want to see anybody getting their hands on it beyond us.”
Russia has denied that the aircraft touched one another, and accusing the U.S. of unnecessarily escalating the issue.
“We assume that the United States will refrain from further speculation in the media and stop flights near Russian borders,”said Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday.
He claimed that the drone crashed after undertaking “sharp maneuvers,” Reuters reports.
Ukrainian officials have claimed the alleged incident is Russia’s attempt to escalate U.S. involvement in the war.
“The incident with the American MQ-9 Reaper UAV — provoked by Russia over the Black Sea — is Putin’s way of signaling his readiness to expand the conflict to involve other parties,” said National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov. “The purpose of this all-in tactic is to always be raising the stakes.”