Russian collision with drone won’t deter U.S. missions, says national security spokesman John Kirby

Russia may have acted aggressively and deliberately to shoot down US surveillance drones in the Black Sea, but these actions do not constitute an act of war, will not impede missions, and will not prevent US drone flights in the future. Military escorts will not lead. White House national security spokesman John Kirby told CBS News.

“It was a deliberate, aggressive, over-aggressive move on the part of this pilot,” Kirby told CBS News on this week’s episode of “The Takeout.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in Washington.

Susan Walsh/AP

Kirby spoke shortly after the Pentagon released video of the Russian pilot’s efforts. Shower the drone with aviation fuel followed by a mid-air collision. The video confirmed the Pentagon’s explanation of the incident and undermined Russian claims that the drone was flying erratically.

“What’s not clear in the video is whether the pilot intended to hit the drone or just had a bad flight,” Kirby said. “I don’t think I would call it an act of war. It was unsafe, it was unprofessional. But look, nobody wants to see this war escalate between America and Russia so that it becomes between America and Russia. Let there be war. Russia.”

Kirby said that if the Russians were to recover MQ-9 Reaper drones from the Black Sea, it would be worthless.

“They won’t find anything of any intrinsic value, I can assure you of that,” Kirby said. “We’ve taken steps to minimize any intelligence-gathering capability. Whatever remains on the surface will likely be….wing fragments or body fragments. Doubtful that Of importance to anybody. Intelligence wise… we’re not worried. They’re going to find anything of value. The water they’re in in the Black Sea is 4,000 to 5,000 feet deep. Anything of value, drones. ‘s hardware would have sunk. I find it highly unlikely that they would be able to recover anything like that.”

Kirby also dismissed the idea of ​​military escort flights for surveillance drones over the Black Sea or any international airspace near Ukraine. Kirby said the drones gather vital intelligence about Russian activities in and around Ukraine, which is then shared with the Ukrainian military.

“You put the pilots there to protect the drone…there’s a little bit of redundancy,” Kirby said. “Why would you need both unmanned and manned aircraft to do (aerial surveillance)? There’s too much risk to our pilots and to the vast potential for escalation. These flights are critical to our national security interests. It will continue.”

Kirby also welcomed Poland’s decision to send at least four – and possibly 10 – MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“It’s no surprise,” Kirby said. “Poland has talked about this in the past. It’s up to them how and when and under what conditions they will deliver the jets. The additional air capabilities that those MiGs can provide… you don’t know. Can put. It’s going to happen. Helpful for them.”

But Poland’s decision will not affect U.S. policy on sending F-16 fighter jets, Kirby said.

“He’s not considering F-16s right now,” Kirby said, referring to President Biden. “We’re not sure that’s a decision we need to make right now or we should make right now.” Instead, according to Kirby, the White House is analyzing what Ukraine needs in terms of artillery, ammunition, air defenses and armored vehicles.

“When you look at the coming weeks, the kind of fight that Ukrainians say they believe they are fighting in the open,” he told CBS News. . “What they need is what the Pentagon calls a combined arms combat capability, a combined arms maneuver.”

Kirby said the U.S. did not know who blew up parts of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and would wait for a European investigation into the matter, and he made it clear the U.S. was not involved.

“We don’t know who did it,” Kirby said. “There are three investigations underway by our three European partners. We will not go beyond what they will find. The United States government had no role in what happened with Nord Stream 2. We believe That it was a but I assure you absolutely, positively that America had no part in it.”

Kirby also said that in the wake of the discovery of classified documents in the possession of former President Trump, Mr. Biden and former Vice President Pence, the White House’s procedures for handling classified documents have not changed.

“Same procedure,” Kirby said. “They’re time-tested, well-worn and understood by everyone who works at the National Security Council and the White House. There’s been no revisions, no changes in procedures. done. These are not just procedures we use in the White House. These are procedures you use throughout the government. They don’t need to be revisited.”

Executive Producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sarah Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Susann
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Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

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