Incidentally, the drone was flying with its transponder turned off, which is a violation of international aviation guidelines. A transponder identifies the aircraft. Why was its transponder turned off? I’ll leave that to you to figure out.
U.S. Isn’t Exactly Neutral
Regardless of the details, there’s no dispute that Russian pilots forced the U.S. drone out of the sky. This is the first time that U.S. and Russian aircrafts have come in direct contact in a way that caused a lost aircraft, albeit no shots were fired by Russia and the drone was unmanned.
But should it come as a surprise?
The U.S. gathers intelligence from drones and other aircraft that it passes on to Ukraine, which is used to target Russian forces. That makes us a belligerent in the war, and a legitimate target for the Russians.
Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn’t tell you that. He wants you to believe that the U.S. was just minding its own business when those dastardly Russians took down our drone. He wants the U.S. to retaliate by shooting down Russian aircraft over international waters.
But the Pentagon has more or less downplayed the incident, which shows that cooler heads may prevail this time.
The Pentagon just wants the whole thing to go away because it doesn’t want to have to answer uncomfortable questions about it.
But who knows where another incident like this might lead?
Up the Escalation Ladder We Go
This is just the latest in a long line of escalatory conduct by both the U.S. (the 2014 coup, providing stingers, javelins, HIMARS, ammunition, Patriots and the promise of tanks and more on the way) and Russia (the 2022 invasion, increased troop levels, massive artillery bombardment and more).
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has also demanded U.S. F-16 fighter jets and even deeper U.S. intervention.
Both sides can point fingers, but at some point, the belligerents lose sight of who started the escalation and just focus on the escalation itself.
Here’s a scenario to consider: Imagine that at some point, Russia begins to win the war decisively and Ukraine is on the verge of collapse.
That’s not unrealistic given the serious ammunition shortages Ukraine is now facing. They’re running especially low on artillery shells, and NATO just doesn’t have many more to give them. On the other hand, Russian factories are working around the clock, cranking shells out.
It’s a numbers game, and Russia has the numbers. Sooner or later, that will manifest itself on the battlefield.