In response to Russian pilots’ destruction of a U.S. surveillance drone, South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said the U.S. should gun down any Russian warplane that approaches an American asset in the airways over international waters.
The U.S. European Command (EUCOM) announced on Tuesday that two Russian fighter jet pilots had forced down a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was traveling over the Black Sea. According to military officials, the pilots had repeatedly dumped fuel onto the drone and flew in front of it in a “reckless” and “unprofessional” manner before a collision brought the surveillance equipment down.
Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity Tuesday evening, Graham said the U.S. should hold Russia accountable and tell the Kremlin, “If you ever get near another U.S. asset flying in international waters, your airplane will be shot down.”
“What would Ronald Reagan do right now?” the Graham continued. “He would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets. American foreign policy is in freefall.”
“All I can tell you is that on multiple fronts, we’re in a dangerous situation,” he continued. “Weakness creates provocation. They know they can get away with it.”
Senator Lindsey Graham holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on his proposed legislation to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. In reaction to Russian pilots taking down a U.S. surveillance drone, Graham on Tuesday said the U.S. should attack any Russian warplane that nears U.S. assets flying over international waters.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty; Isaac Brekken/Getty
Graham pointed fingers at President Joe Biden for acting like “a deer in the headlights” in the face of Russia and other foreign threats. Hannity suggested that incidents like the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the continental U.S. may have been “watched” by Russian President Vladimir Putin to gather Biden’s “lack of reactions.”
The senator also compared the president to legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield, renowned for leading his jokes with the line, “I don’t get no respect.”
“So President Biden, you’re the Rodney Dangerfield of world leaders,” he told Hannity. “Nobody respects you. And if you don’t change your game and up your game, we’re going to have World War III.”
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek Tuesday evening that he believed the drone taken down was supporting Ukrainian forces, adding that “the American UAV that was moving deliberately and provocatively towards the Russian territory with its transponders turned off violated the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation.”
However, according to General James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, the UAV “was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft.”
National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby also condemned the incident on Tuesday, saying that while there have been “intercepts by Russians of U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea” before, “this one obviously is noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional, indeed how reckless it was, and causing the downing of one of our aircraft.”
Newsweek has reached out to the White House press team via email for comment.
Source : Newsweek