Leaders at the Pentagon are trying to prevent an incident over the Black Sea from escalating. They are trying to clear the air after a collision on Tuesday between a US drone and a Russian jet.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone on Wednesday with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Austin refused to divulge the details of the call but says the Americans are undeterred.
Austin said, "The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows, and it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner."
US officials say their surveillance drone was flying on a routine mission in international airspace over the Black Sea. They say Russian jets intercepted and dumped fuel on it before hitting its propeller. They say they are not sure whether the collision was intentional. US forces had to crash the drone into the water.
However, the Russians deny there was any direct contact. They also criticized the US for flying the drone near Crimea, in an area they have declared off-limits.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "For global security, any incidents that provoke a clash between two great powers -- two nuclear powers, the largest in the world -- always pose very serious risks."
The Russians say they are trying to retrieve the drone. However, US military officials say that would be "difficult," as the aircraft is already more than a thousand meters underwater.