According to U.S. defense officials the highest levels of the Kremlin leadership approved the aggressive actions of Russian military fighter jets against a U.S. military drone over the Black Sea Tuesday. According to these sources, reported by NBC, they were not sure if President Putin had signed off on the aggressive tactics, but that Kremlin leadership instructed Black Sea based aircraft to aggressively intercept American drones.
This seems to be an escalation from previous assessments concerning the engagement of the British RC-135 Rivet Joint in September in which a pair of Russian Su-27s fired an air-to-air missile at the reconnaissance aircraft. Russian and American officials claimed that engagement was completely accidental.
This report however, seems to indicate the Russian General Staff or VKS commander Surovikin personally signed off on the aggressive maneuvers which entailed dumping fuel during close maneuvers. However, these sources also indicated that the collision was most likely unintentional. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley held initial talks with his counterpart General Gerasimov on the incident.
Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels have reportedly already raised the wreckage of the American drone, much to the chagrin of U.S. and NATO forces which also reportedly attempted to recover the wreckage.