Thursday 16 March 2023

‘Incidents Happen’: Gen. Milley Won’t Consider Russia Dropping U.S. Drone An ‘Act Of War’

 General Mark Milley said Wednesday that he was not prepared to consider Russia’s downing of an American drone to be an act of war. “Incidents happen,” he said.

Milley, who has served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2019, gave a briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday to update the press and the public on what had happened and how the Defense Department planned to proceed.


“As far as an act of war goes, I’m not gonna — I’m not gonna go there. Incidents happen,” Milley said. “And clearly we do not seek armed conflict with Russia and I believe at this point we should investigate this incident and move on from there. But we will continue to exercise our rights in international airspace.”

Milley also addressed the possibility of retrieval, noting that the drone had gone down in water that was thousands of feet deep and would thus likely prove difficult to recover.


“This is probably about four or five thousand feet of water and it probably, don’t know for certain yet, it will be days before we have actual facts on the impact and what debris is there,” Milley explained. “It probably sank to some significant depths. So, any recovery operation from a techno standpoint would be very difficult.”

Milley went on to say that if it became apparent that recovery was possible — or that it was a good idea – Defense Department leadership would address that in the coming days.

Russian authorities have already expressed an interest in recovering the drone. “I don’t know if we can recover them or not, but we will certainly have to do that, and we will deal with it,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Wednesday. “I certainly hope for success.”

The United States military said that one of two Russian planes had clipped the propeller of the drone, after which it went down in international waters. State Department spokesman Ned Price called the incident a “brazen violation of international law.”

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