A Russian fighter jet has collided with a US drone, causing the unmanned US aircraft to crash into the Black Sea, the American military says.
The incident highlights the increasing risk of direct confrontation between Russia and the US over the Ukraine war.
The US says the drone was on a routine mission in international airspace when two Russian jets tried to intercept it.
Russia said the drone crashed after a “sharp manoeuvre”, and denied that the two aircraft made direct contact.
The Russian defence ministry also said the MQ-9 Reaper drone was flying with its transponders turned off. Transponders are communications devices that allow the aircraft to be tracked.
Reaper drones are surveillance aircraft with a 20m (66ft) wingspan.
“Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9,” the statement said.
Several times before the collision the Su-27 fighter jets dumped fuel on the drone in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”, it said.
The US summoned the Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, to protest against the move.
Following the meeting, Russian state media quoted Antonov as saying that Moscow saw the drone incident as “a provocation”.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine the US and the UK have stepped up reconnaissance and surveillance flights, though always operating in international airspace.