US State Dept says Black Sea drone incident likely unintentional from Russia

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military surveillance drone's crash into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian jets was likely an unintentional act from Russia's side, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told MSNBC on Wednesday.

Moscow warned Washington on Wednesday to keep well away from its air space after the incident from a day earlier, which took place in international air space near territory Russia claims to have annexed from Ukraine.

"I think the best assessment right now is that it probably was unintentional. It probably was the result of profound incompetence on the part of one of these Russian pilots," Price said in an interview on MSNBC.

"This incident demonstrates a lack of competence, in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional," Price added.

The U.S military MQ-9 surveillance drone crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday after a Russian Su-27 jet struck its propeller, the Pentagon said, the first such incident since Russia's invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.

Russia has denied that any contact was made and says the drone crashed after "sharp maneuvering".

The U.S. State Department spokesperson also confirmed there is surveillance video of the incident and that the Department of Defense was determining whether to release it to the public.

The Russian and U.S. defense ministers held a phone call on Wednesday, the Russian defense ministry said. Russia has said it will try to retrieve the remains of the drone while White House spokesman John Kirby said the drone may never be recovered.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)