Lindsey Graham slammed for provoking ‘dangerous escalation’ with Russia over downed US drone

Russia’s ambassador to the United States slammed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham for suggesting that the United States shoot down any Russian planes if they “ever get near another US asset flying in international waters”.

Mr Graham made the remarks after two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft performed what US Air Force General called a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional” set of manoeuvres,” which dumped fuel and damaged the propeller of an MQ-9 drone.

That forced the United States to down the drone. Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked Mr Graham how the United States should respond, which led him to made the incendiary remarks.

“Well, we should hold them accountable and say if you ever get near another US asset flying in international waters, your airplane will be shot down,” he said. “What would Ronald Reagan do right now? He would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets.”

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, criticised the South Carolina Republican on Telegram and in Russian media, saying “The calls of some legislators go beyond common sense,” The Daily Beast reported.

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation explained in detail the reasons and procedure for the actions of Russian pilots during yesterday's incident over the Black Sea,” Mr Antonov said. “I repeat for those who did not find the strength to look at the situation objectively: our fighters did not come into contact with the American UAV . Russia did its best to prevent such incidents – it brought to the attention of the international community in advance information about the borders of the area of ​​​​the temporary regime for the use of airspace established for the purpose of conducting the NVO.”

Mr Antonov said that he understood why the Pentagon was upset it lost expensive equiment.

“But in this case, accusations of unprofessionalism by the US military should be redirected to their address,” he said.

Mr Antonov also cited Mr Graham’s tweet from last year when he called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that Mr Graham’s recent remarks are “by no means the first attempt by the odious legislator to provoke a dangerous escalation in Russian-American relations.”

“Does the senator seriously believe that a direct military clash with Russia is in the interests of voters who entrusted him with the care of their lives and well-being? Intentionally attacking a Russian aircraft in neutral airspace is not just a crime under international law, but also an open declaration of war against the largest nuclear power,” he said. “