• US officials say surveillance flights over the Black Sea have resumed despite Russia’s downing of the MQ-9 Reaper drone.

MOSCOW *News Agencies*: Russia has conferred state awards on the two fighter pilots involved in the downing of a US surveillance drone that crashed into the Black Sea, the Russian Defence Ministry said, while United States officials announced that its spy flights in the region have resumed.

Presenting the awards on Friday to the Su-27 jet fighter pilots, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu lauded their achievement in preventing the drone from flying into an area near Crimea to which Moscow has banned access.

“The drone flew with its transponders off, violating the boundaries of the area of the temporary airspace usage regime established for the special military operation [and] communicated to all users of international airspace,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement, according to The Moscow Times.

Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said the awards for the pilots were “a clear sign that Russia will keep downing” US drones.

“This decision will receive a strong support from the Russian society that wants the government to toughen its policy,” Markov wrote in a commentary.

Russia’s presentation of the awards comes a day after the US military released a declassified 42-second video clip showing the Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepting the drone and making close passes while dumping fuel in an apparent bid to damage the drone’s optical and other hi-tech instruments.

By Media

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