The Defense Ministry of Russia has announced on Friday that the Russian fighter pilots responsible for the U.S. drone crash will be given state awards. This action appears to signal Russia’s intention to adopt a more aggressive stance toward future U.S. surveillance flights. On Tuesday, the U.S. military said it ditched the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper in the Black Sea after Russian fighter jets dumped fuel on the surveillance drone and then one of them struck its propeller while it was flying in international airspace. However, Moscow has denied that its warplanes hit the drone, alleging that it crashed while making a sharp maneuver. Moscow’s announcement comes a day after the U.S. military released a declassified 42-second color footage showing a Russian Su-27 fighter jet approaching the back of the U.S. drone and releasing fuel as it passes in what appeared to be aimed at blinding the drone’s optical instruments to drive it from the area. While calling out Russia for “reckless” action, the White House also tried to avoid exacerbating tensions.

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