(CNSNews.com) – One day after Russian fighter jets clipped a U.S. unmanned drone, forcing the U.S. to ditch it in the Black Sea, some lawmakers are demanding a firm response from President Joe Biden, who — as of mid-morning on Wednesday — had not commented publicly on the Russian provocation.
“President Biden needs to come out and forcefully make it clear that we won’t tolerate this provocative action,” Sen. Tom Cotton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, told Fox News.
“If we don’t put our foot down, and Russia downs one of our unmanned aircraft, we will invite Russia or China or Iran to perhaps down one of our manned aircraft.
“So what can we do?” Cotton asked:
“Well, first, they should put up another drone today in the exact same flight pattern, same airspace, to make it clear we will not be intimidated from flying in that airspace. Second, we should return the U.S. Navy back to the Black Sea. President Biden bugged out last year, as Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.
“But NATO has more Black Sea coastline than Russia does. And third, we should make it clear that we’re going to do what we should have done long ago, which is provide Ukraine with weapons that they need to strike Russian rocket and artillery systems across the border that are shooting into Ukraine.
“Those three steps will send a clear signal to Russia that we will not tolerate this dangerous provocation and avoid further escalations.”
According to the U.S. Defense Department, two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept with a U.S. Air Force drone that was flying in international airspace over the Black Sea.
“[O]ne of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters,” a Defense Department spokesman said.
“Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional.”
Sen. Cotton said that kind of harassment and interference is exactly what nations such as Russia and China and Iran do when they think they can get away with it.
He noted that the U.S. has NATO allies along the Black Sea, while Russia doesn’t: “They have no reason to be in or near American airspace. And as long as we are flying in international airspace in the Black Sea or in international waters in the Black Sea, as we were, we have every right to do so.”
Cotton said he worries that President Biden will now refuse to fly drones over the Black Sea, just as the U.S. military has canceled long-planned missile tests in that area to avoid provoking Russia.
“So that’s why it’s critical that today President Biden make it clear that we will not be deterred from conducting our military operations in international waters and international skies, otherwise we are inviting other attacks in the future, perhaps against manned aircraft or our Navy vessels,” Cotton said.
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