US drone crash: rising risk of escalation?

A US reconnaissance drone crashed over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The US complained that Russia's "unsafe and unprofessional" actions led to the drone's collision with a Russian fighter jet. Moscow countered that the drone crashed on its own and accused the US of collecting data and passing it on to Kyiv. Europe's press analyses the risks of such incidents.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Provocations can lead to real confrontation

The incident shows how dangerous the world has become since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Russia and Nato are not at war with each other, but Moscow's gambler in command Vladimir Putin has drastically increased the probability of a military confrontation. Firstly because as an unpredictable aggressor he is forcing the US and its allies into extreme vigilance. Secondly because he has driven the state, society and, of course, the armed forces in Russia into a mental state of war against the 'collective West'. This includes provocations that could lead to an uncontrollable confrontation.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Dialogue is vital

Ilta-Sanomat hopes that the US and Russia will keep up a dialogue:

“The United States conducts daily reconnaissance flights over the territory of Nato countries bordering Ukraine and in international airspace. Information on the movements of Russian forces is invaluable to Ukraine. ... This naturally angers the Kremlin and the Russian military leadership. It is precisely an incident like the one on Tuesday that could lead to an escalation of Russia's war of aggression. Fortunately, however, the great powers have diplomatic relations and contacts at the official level through which any tensions that arise can be defused without public attention. It is to be hoped that these channels will continue to function.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Moscow accepting risk of dangerous mistakes

The low levels of training among Russian soldiers is a real cause for concern, La Libre Belgique comments, concurring with the US:

“One may also wonder what the sequence of events would be in the event of worse blunders, especially if they were to cost lives. In this sitting war in which Nato is involved, but not entirely, the danger is all the greater because Washington has accused the Russian pilots who were on duty on Tuesday of being 'unprofessional'. By relying more and more on poorly trained recruits and militias that operate according to their own rules, Russia is increasingly at risk of making mistakes that could have dire consequences.”

Oleksandr Kovalenko (UA) /

This was no accident

The US will respond in its own way, military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko predicts on Facebook:

“The Russian military has a history of such provocations going back to the Soviet era. ... US General Hecker may call such actions 'unsafe and unprofessional', but they were carried out in a professional and planned manner. A US reconnaissance drone which costs as much as a fighter jet was shot down with very little effort. The objective was achieved. Of course, there will be no US military response to these actions, because Russia disguised them as an accident. But what will Washington do when it comes to the next military aid package for Ukraine? Such a challenge will not go unanswered.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Moscow trying to mark out territory

From Russia's point of view there was a violation of national airspace, Jutarnji list comments:

“Some of the statements by Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador in Washington, suggest that Moscow wants the world to believe that the Russians deliberately shot down the drone. His questions about what 'the drone was doing there' and how the US would react if a Russian drone 'flew close to US shores' were meant to test the US. Washington answered clearly. The incident happened in international airspace, over international waters, far from Russian territory. But Moscow sees Crimea and other occupied territories in Ukraine as part of Russia, which no one in Nato will accept.”