The instruction reportedly comes from the Pentagon’s secret map, which was leaked online An MQ-9 Reaper drone at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 2022.

The US has apparently instructed its military to fly surveillance aircraft much farther from Crimea, Russia than they are allowed by international law, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing a leaked Pentagon document. The report comes after a trove of US classified files on the Ukraine conflict was dumped online last week.

According to the newspaper, one document contains a map of an area where US spy planes may fly. It reportedly shows a boundary that starts around 12 miles (19.3 km) off the coast of Crimea, which is in accordance with international law, and a second line about 50 miles (80.4 km) from the shore marked as ‘SECDEF Direct Standoff’. The map indicates that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “may have ordered US pilots to keep aircraft farther from the peninsula,” the Post wrote.

On March 14, the US European Command (EUCOM) said Russian fighter jets forced it to bring down its own MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone that was flying in international airspace above the Black Sea. According to EUCOM, Su-27s dumped fuel on the UAV and one of the Russian planes struck its propeller.

Russia almost shot down British spy plane – WaPo Russia almost shot down British spy plane – WaPo

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Russia almost shot down British spy plane – WaPo

The Russian Defense Ministry said the drone had entered a restricted area outlined by Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine. The MOD stated that the MQ-9 crashed on its own after going “into uncontrolled flight.” Moscow also denied that there was physical contact between the drone and the planes dispatched to intercept it.

Last week, the Pentagon and the Department of Justice launched separate probes into the leaks of top-secret files. One document circulating on social media appears to be a daily dispatch from the battlefield and shows the disposition of Ukrainian forces, as well as their training schedule.

Another document seen by the Post claims that Russian jets nearly shot down a British reconnaissance aircraft over the Black Sea in September 2022. (RT)