The incident took place against the background of growing Russian-American tension in connection with Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

STUTTGART, Germany – The U.S. military said a Russian fighter jet hit the propeller of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday, prompting U.S. forces to shoot it down in international waters.

The US European Command said in a statement that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets “performed an unsafe and unprofessional interception” of a US MQ-9 drone operating in international airspace over the Black Sea.

It said one of the Russian fighter jets “struck the MQ-9’s propeller, forcing US forces to shoot down the MQ-9 in international waters,” adding that the Su-27 jettisoned fuel several times before the collision and flew in front of the MQ-9. “in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner.”

“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” it added.

The incident took place against the background of growing Russian-American tension in connection with Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS. Earlier AP history is below.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile hit an apartment building in central Kramatorsk on Tuesday, killing at least one person and wounding nine others in one of Ukraine’s major cities in eastern Donetsk region during fighting against Invasion of Moscowofficials said.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky published a video showing holes in the facade of the low-rise building that was hit.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office and regional governor Paulo Kirilenko also reported on the attack, publishing photos of the building with piles of rubble in front of it. As a result of the strike, nine apartment buildings, a kindergarten, a branch of a local bank and two cars were damaged, Kirilenko said.

The war, which erupted after Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022, brought heavy losses among the civilian population. Tuesday’s victims were among at least seven civilians killed and 30 wounded in 24 hours, Ukrainian authorities said.

Among them is a 55-year-old woman who was killed on Tuesday when a Russian shell hit her car in a border town in northeastern Ukraine.

“Russian troops are striking residential buildings, schools and hospitals, leaving cities on fire and in ruins,” the governor of the region, Kirilenko, said on Ukrainian television. “Every meter (yard) of their advance in the region is marked by the Russians not only with their own blood, but also with the (lost) lives of civilians.”

The local headquarters of the Ukrainian army is located in Kramatorsk. Ukrainian authorities say it has regularly come under Russian fire and other attacks in the past.

Dozens of people were killed and more than 100 were injured in a rocket attack on the city’s railway station in April last year, which Kiev and a large part of the international community blamed on Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking Tuesday during a meeting with workers at a helicopter factory in southern Siberia, again described the conflict in Ukraine as existential for Russia, saying that unlike the West, which he said seeks to advance its geopolitical influence, it is a struggle for its existence as a state.

“For us, this is not a geopolitical task,” Putin said, “it is the task of survival of Russian statehood and creation of conditions for the further development of our country.”

Ukrainian forces have also dug in, especially in the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, where Kievan forces have repelled Russian attacks for seven months and which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance as well as the center of the war.

Zelensky discussed the situation in Bakhmut with the top military leadership, and they were unanimous in their determination to resist the Russian onslaught, according to the president’s office.

“The defensive operation in (Bahmut) is of prime strategic importance for deterring the enemy. This is the main thing for the stability of the defense of the entire front line,” said the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny.

Putin emphasized that his country’s industry survived the impact of Western sanctions. But he admitted that these sanctions could bring long-term problems for the Russian economy.

Russia welcomed a Chinese peace proposal to end the fighting, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Kiev’s refusal to negotiate leaves Moscow with only military options.

Beijing has said it has “boundless friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion or even call it an invasion.

“We must achieve our goals,” Piaskov told reporters. “Given the current position of the Kyiv regime, this is now possible only by military means.”

However, Moscow’s achievement of its goals in Ukraine has been slowed by poor war management and a lack of resources after it was repulsed late last year in a Ukrainian counteroffensive, military analysts say.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that shortages of artillery ammunition in Russia “are likely to have worsened to the point that many areas of the front are subject to very severe fire restrictions”.

This shortcoming, he said, “was almost certainly a key reason why no Russian formation has been able to conduct operationally significant offensive actions in recent times.”

— The lower house of the Russian parliament on Tuesday finally approved a bill that expands the punishment for disrespecting members of the “special operation,” as the Kremlin officially calls its war in Ukraine. The change provides punishment for spreading allegedly false information not only about the military, but also about members of volunteer units, apparently with reference to the Wagner Group military contractor. Those convicted of spreading such information face up to 15 years in prison. The bill must be approved by the upper house before President Vladimir Putin signs it.

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