On March 4, a Russian Su-27 fighter brought down an American "Reaper" drone. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin blamed Russia for the incident and called upon Russia to operate its aircraft safely and professionally, claiming that the collision was the result of a pattern of "risky" actions performed the Russians. Subsequently, the U.S. released a video showing the Russian fighter dumping fuel on the American drone. Russia showed no contrition and claimed that the drone was flying in the direction of the Russian border in an area where Russia had imposed restrictions on flights. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented the pilots of the Su-27 fighter who prevented the American MQ-9 Reaper from crossing the state border with a medal in recognition of their action.
"The Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, awarded a state medal to the pilots of the Su-27 aircraft who prevented the violation by the American MQ-9 UAV of the borders of the area of the temporary regime for the use of airspace, established for the purpose of conducting a special military operation [in Ukraine]. The boundaries of the area were communicated to all users of international airspace and published in accordance with international standards," the Russian defense ministry press release stated.
Two Russian journalistic heavyweights – Dmitry Babich, the Voice of Russia radio station's political analyst, and Mikhail Rostovsky, the senior commentator of the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets – offered contrasting takes on the incident. Babich, in an opinion piece published on the online portal of the Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, was jubilant. He hoped that the downing of the drone would serve as a cold shower to the American leadership, reminding them that their latter-day Pax Romana was finished. According to Babich, people no longer feared the Americans and their pilotless executioners. Even the Saudis had rebuffed them. The once-feared hegemon had become a laughing stock. Rostovsky, for his part, regretted the incident. He thought it was unwise to be drawn into a conflict with the Americans and particularly the Biden Administration that is aware of the risks of escalation and whose pledge not to commit troops to fight in Ukraine is sincere. Moreover, the Americans, who know how to cut their losses, will abandon the Ukrainians the way they abandoned the Afghans. Therefore, brinksmanship, such as the drone incident, recalls the action of Hermann, the protagonist of the opera The Queen of Spades, who bets his entire fortune on a single card and loses. Rostovsky is deliberately vague about who is practicing brinksmanship.
Below are both opinion pieces about the incident:
American "Reaper" drone (Source: Ria.ru)
Dmitry Babich in an article titled "The Empire Has Entered A Period Of Decline And The Old Caesar Is No Longer Intimidating," warns the U.S. to expect to see its drones forced down all over the world.
"Let the experts discuss the technical circumstances of the crash of the American Reaper UAV over the Black Sea. No doubt, experts in the field of aviation technology, military electronics, and electronic warfare will explain better than me what had occurred there, and why a huge drone, according to the unforgettable line of the [Soviet and Russian] rock band Mango-Mango, 'hit the water lightly, you fool!'
"I suggest casting a historical glance at the situation. If the U.S. is the Roman Empire of today's world (which is what Washington pretends to be), then drones like the Reaper act as spies and some sort of 'military inspectors' for this new Rome. Their presence in regions that are tens of thousands of miles away from the U.S., from the perspective of the new global emperors, is perfectly legitimate and natural.
"At times, drones even perform the role of long-distance executioners. Numerous alleged 'terrorists' have been killed by U.S. drones on the territory of formally sovereign countries (for instance, in Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan). Naturally, without the permission of the local governments.
"And suddenly, this very inspector (albeit not a living person) representing the last and best (from Fukuyama's point of view) empire in human history was landed onto a hard surface of the water. All hell broke loose.
"The Americans will probably have to get used to the fact that the same thing will happen to their 'inspectors' in other parts of the world. Or something similar. The empire has entered a period of decline and the old Caesar is no longer frightening but risible. He promises to ruin Russia, and it's not ruined. He cannot even 'bend' to his will the Saudi prince who refuses to lower the price of oil for the U.S. and refuses in advance to recognize a 'price cap' for the 'black gold' extracted in his country.
"The old American Caesar is particularly laughable in his hypocrisy. For some reason he dubs the imperial tax a loan: the system works so that the U.S. in fact borrows from China, the world, and, until recently, from us [i.e., Russia] in USD, that is, in the very currency that the Americans are printing and therefore are able to depreciate.
"He [Ceasar] refers to imperial propaganda as 'independent media' (the more it agrees with the U.S. and the EU, the more these media are supposedly independent, no matter where they are located: in Russia or in Indonesia).
"In general, the old hegemon lies and has started believing in his own lies. The Reaper UAV hitting the water has been a cold shower for the American leadership first and foremost."
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Dmitry Babich (Source: Astanatimes.com)
Mikhail Rostovsky, in an article titled "What's In Store For Russia In The Coming Months: Conclusions On The U.S. Drone Wreck," claims the incidents destroyed his optimism that the worst could be avoided in the current fighting. He wrote:
"Sometimes things happen so that each event taken separately is comprehensible, logical and, in its own way, even routine and boring. But when such events combine into a convoluted tangle, any thoughts of routine are instantly abandoned. An American UAV has failed to avoid a Russian military aircraft in the skies and as a result will never fly again. Moscow and Washington routinely trade accusations of maliciousness, unprofessionalism, and so on and so on.
"The 'great whistleblower' on the anti-North Stream conspiracy, Seymour Hersh has issued a chilling new warning: the Biden administration is considering an option of direct military intervention in the Ukraine conflict should the Zelensky regime begin to fall.
"Hersh, of course, is brainy. But this time I don't believe the new claim of the American ace of investigative journalism.
"Naturally, there may be individual (or groups of) hotheads among administration functionaries, members of Congress, intelligence officials, and military figures. But the American leadership is definitely unprepared to risk everything for the sake of an abstract idea of 'protecting Ukrainian democracy.'
"The governor of Florida, the potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis stated the other day: 'While the U.S. has many vital national interests, becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.'
"Being a political opponent of the current ruling team, DeSantis can by no means be perceived as a spokesman for Biden's thoughts and intentions. But in terms of adherence to the principle 'our interests are paramount, and our primary interest is our own security,' Republicans and Democrats are identical twins.
"American foreign policy has always been, and still is, characterized by a mixture of mild (or not so mild) ignorance, sincere idealism, and cold utilitarianism. Americans are used to perceiving themselves as the 'good guys,' who help other 'good guys' fight against the 'bad guys.'
"The names of the countries from which these 'good guys' originate constantly change. But if you take the period of both the first and the second Cold War, their aggregate image is always the same: courageous, bright, distinctive, a bit strange, a little (sorry – this time definitely not a little) backward.
"In other words, it's always a 'top-down view,' which, moreover, is not weighed down by a most general familiarity with the history, traditions, and culture of those who, at the moment, are playing the role of the 'good guys'.
"In case of dire political need, this facile approach allows Washington to painlessly bid adieu to those 'good guys' whose political usefulness to the U.S. has exhausted itself. Over the horizon, there are always new 'good guys' awaiting, who also urgently need help.
"Let's recall for example how fervently in the 1980s the USA proclaimed its commitment to the idea of a 'free Afghanistan.' It was abandoned, forgotten, and shunted off to the periphery of consciousness as soon as the country ceased to be geopolitically useful to the U.S.
"In the twenty-first century, history has repeated itself: all the 'we will not abandon you' incantations ended with scenes of the downfall of those who naively believed such incantations. Let's recall how naïve Afghans were falling from the last American planes taking off from Kabul airfields.
"Please do not regard the last two paragraphs as anti-American propaganda, or even as a 'denunciation of their morals' [a Soviet propaganda trope]. It is merely a detached account (with an element of involuntary admiration) of how good the U.S. is at playing the geopolitical game. And they are especially good at what they call 'cutting one's losses.'
"Naturally, at the moment, from the Americans' perspective, official Kyiv is by no means a toxic and burdensome asset, but a very valuable, useful, and promising one. But it is still a bargaining chip, not something for which one can jeopardize one's own lives and well-being.
"I have just finished a recent book by the prominent U.S. journalist Chris Whipple on the first two years of the Biden administration. There is much of interest in this piece that is most complimentary for Biden, based on the author's personal contact with both the president himself and the key figures in his inner circle. But I was particularly struck by the account of how strongly Biden fears nuclear war. And it is not just in terms of the U.S. President's personal feelings and perceptions. A sober understanding of how high the stakes are now in the hybrid conflict in Ukraine is characteristic of all his chief subordinates.
"For instance, let's look at the section where Chris Whipple discusses with CIA Director Bill Burns the solemn promises like those made by Putin on September 21, 2022: 'Nuclear blackmail is now on the table. It is not just about Western-encouraged shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which threatens a nuclear disaster, but also about statements by some senior representatives of leading NATO member-states about the possibility and permissibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia – nuclear weapons. I would like to remind those who make such statements about Russia, that our country also possesses various means of destruction, some of which are more advanced than those of NATO member-states. If our territorial integrity is threatened, we will, of course, use all the means at our disposal to defend Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.'
"[According to the book,] the CIA chief admits that such warnings 'should not be taken lightly.' What follows is a paragraph that mixes the thoughts of the book's author and the words of Bill Burns: 'Hence Joe Biden's constant pledges to never deploy American troops to Ukraine or to even consider such a possibility. Burns gave credit to the president for his masterful maneuvering in such dangerous territory, "Clearly seeing risks of a third world war is a sign of strong leadership on his part," he told me. What can I add to that?' - probably one thing only, in this isolated case Joe Biden is a 'bigger head' than Seymour Hersh.
"At first it seemed to me that I finally have managed to write a relatively optimistic ending to the text, which is very rare nowadays. But then a 'dead' (according to one version, as a result of the actions of the Yankees themselves) American UAV came to my mind. And my optimism again diminished.
"In this particular case, things worked out. But what would happen if an accidental clash between Russian and U.S. forces was accompanied by human casualties? There is a term in American political jargon – 'brinkmanship.' It means balancing on the brink of an abyss and catastrophe. 'What is our life? A game!' sings Hermann [the tragic protagonist of the Tchaikovsky opera "The Queen of Spades"]. And here's a version that, in my not particularly musically-cultivated opinion, is more suited to the present day: 'What is our life? Brinkmanship!'"
Mikhail Rostovsky (Source: Russian.rt.com)