Russia honored two pilots involved in the crash of an American drone with “Orders of Courage,” but National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dismissed the pilot who apparently hit the drone as “at best just an idiot.”
Remote U.S. handlers crash-landed the reconnaissance MQ-9 Reaper drone last week after the confrontation over the Black Sea. The Kremlin lauded pilots for preventing the drone from “violating the boundaries of the temporary airspace regime established for the special military operation.”
Kirby said video of the confrontation does not make clear whether the pilot was “intentionally trying to ram the drone, but he did.”
“I don’t know of another military in the world, another air force in the world that would award a pilot for smashing into a drone,” Kirby said at a briefing. “I have no clue why they would give a bravery award to a pilot who was at worst maliciously putting himself and U.S. property at great risk and at best just an idiot.”
►Explosions reported Thursday in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol were an attempt by Ukrainian partisans to blow up a Russian collaborator’s car, according to Russian media. An improvised explosive device was allegedly planted on the car of a police officer, who was hospitalized in stable condition.
►Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed claims that Russia is running low on weapons and ammunition, saying Russia will produce 1,500 battle tanks and boost production of other weapons to meet the army’s needs.
Slovakia hands over 4 fighter jets to Ukraine
Slovakia delivered four MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian Armed Forces Thursday and promised more would be turned over soon. Slovak Defense Minister Jaro Nad said nine more jets will be handed over in coming weeks but declined to provide a timeline. Poland has also agreed to provide Ukraine with jets President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has for months been lobbying the West for jets he says he desperately needs to drive Russian troops out of his country. The U.S. is among several western nations supporting Ukraine but decline to provide jets citing concerns of expanding the war.
“Slovakia stands on the right side, and with this gesture we as a country have written ourselves in capital letters in modern world history,” Nado said on Facebook. “We are doing the right thing because it is Russia that invaded Ukraine, it is Russia that is in Ukraine and it is Russia that, when it withdraws troops, the war will end immediately.”
The board that oversees the International Criminal Court expressed support Thursday for its prosecutors and judges amid veiled threats made by Russia after the court issued arrest warrants for Putin and another Russian official. The Assembly of State Parties issued a statement saying it “regrets these attempts to hinder international efforts to ensure accountability for acts that are prohibited under general international law.”
The court issued arrest warrants Friday for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official overseeing the forced deportations of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. Medvedev responded by saying it would ‘hypothetically” be possible for a Russian ship stationed in the North Sea to strategically strike the Hague courthouse with a missile. He warned court judges to “look carefully at the sky.”
Medvedev blasted a German minister for threatening Russian President Vladimir Putin with arrest, saying that such action could trigger a Russian strike on Germany. Medvedev, now deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said Russia’s relations with the West have hit an all-time low.
German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said last week that Putin would be arrested on the ICC’s warrant if he visits Germany.
“Let’s imagine … the leader of a nuclear power visits the territory of Germany and is arrested,” Medvedev said, adding that it would amount to a declaration of war against Russia. “In this case, our assets will fly to hit the Bundestag, the chancellor’s office and so on.”
Contributing: The Associated Press