Ukraine conflict – day 386: U.S. and Russia trade blame after drone crash; fighting rages in Bakhmut
Updated 02:26, 17-Mar-2023


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin that operating drone flights near Crimea was provocative and could lead to an escalation, the Russian Defence Ministry said. SEE MORE BELOW

The 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, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said.

The situation for Russian forces trying to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is "difficult", because there are no signs Kyiv is ready to order a withdrawal of its troops, the Russian-installed leader of Ukraine's Donetsk region said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned it was crucial to provide Ukraine with fresh ammunition as soon as possible to resist Russia's army and pledged quick EU action.

France was accused of slowing down a European Union $2.12 billion package for purchasing weapons for Ukraine by demanding that the munitions be manufactured inside the bloc, The Telegraph reports.

Canada will send about 8,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and a dozen air defense missiles as part of Ottawa's latest military aide to Kyiv, the Canadian defense ministry said.

• The International Monetary Fund said its staff made "very good progress" in talks with Ukraine on a set of policies that could underpin a new IMF lending program for the country, and the talks could be finalized in coming days.

UK foreign minister James Cleverly said the best way to protect Moldova from attack by Russia was to protect Ukraine.

The Kremlin insisted Russia was not a threat to Finland, ahead of the Finnish president's visit to Türkiye, which is expected to approve Helsinki's NATO bid.

A Ukrainian tank operating outside Bakhmut. /Aris Messinis/AFP
A Ukrainian tank operating outside Bakhmut. /Aris Messinis/AFP

A Ukrainian tank operating outside Bakhmut. /Aris Messinis/AFP


U.S. and Russia trade barbs over crashed drone

Washington said the crash of a U.S. spy drone after an encounter with Russian jets had demonstrated Moscow's "aggressive" behavior, while Russia accused the U.S. of seeking to escalate tensions in the Black Sea region.

The drone incident on Tuesday was the first known direct U.S.-Russia encounter since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022, and has laid bare the parlous state of relations between the world's leading nuclear powers.

It came as Russia kept up its drive to capture the small eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, in what would be its first substantial victory in more than half a year. 

However, the Russian-installed leader of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region said on Thursday the situation around the now-ruined city remained "difficult" as Kyiv refused to withdraw its forces.

The U.S. and Russian defence ministers and military chiefs held rare phone conversations on Wednesday over the drone incident, in which the MQ-9 Reaper plunged into the Black Sea while on a reconnaissance mission in international airspace.


HSBC buys UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank

Italy's growing ageing problem

Spain's liquid gold flowing to China

The U.S. military said two Russian Su-27 fighter planes had harassed the drone and sprayed fuel on it before one clipped the drone's propeller, causing it to crash. Moscow said there was no collision and the drone crashed after "provocatively" flying close to Russian air space.

"There is a pattern of behavior recently where there is a little bit more aggressive actions being conducted by the Russians," said General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his U.S. counterpart that U.S. drone flights near Crimea's coast "were provocative in nature" and could lead to "an escalation."

In a statement, Russia said it had "no interest" in escalation "but will in future react in due proportion" and the two countries should "act with a maximum of responsibility," including having military lines of communication in a crisis.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: "The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows. And it is incumbent on Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner."


Subscribe to Storyboard: A weekly newsletter bringing you the best of CGTN every Friday

Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

Search Trends