Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told Newsmax Thursday that the Biden administration must be "very firm" in responding to the "horribly aggressive action" the Russians took in downing a $32 million U.S. reconnaissance drone on Tuesday.
"This was unprovoked," Ernst said during an appearance on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." We have every right to be in that airspace, and the Russians … knew exactly what they were doing. They were trailing this drone, they were obviously trying to take it down, and they succeeded in doing that with their recklessness."
"But, certainly, it is a very, very expensive piece of military hardware that we have that is now gone, that the Russians are now looking for," she continued. "So, while I don't know that I would categorize it as an act of war, I think it is absolutely unprovoked aggression coming from the Russians, and we need to be firm in our response."
On Thursday, the Pentagon released declassified video showing Russia's intercept of a U.S. military surveillance drone taken down over the Black Sea two days prior.
The first direct U.S.-Russian interaction since the war in Ukraine began, the situation strained the already fraught relations between Washington and Moscow.
In the video footage, a Russian Su-27 fighter moves very close to the U.S. MQ-9 drone and dumps fuel near it, in an apparent effort to damage the American aircraft as it traveled over the Black Sea.
When asked about Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent moves to play peacemaker in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Ernst said that America has been absent as a world leader under the current administration.
"When there is a void, when it comes to leadership, others will find a way to fill that gap and what we have seen exhibited by this administration and specifically, President Joe Biden, is a lack of leadership on the global stage," she said. "America used to be that great convener, bringing countries together and seeking peace, but President Biden has been unable to lead with strength and bring other countries along with him on many different endeavors.
"I'm a firm believer that the United States should be a global leader," the senator continued. "It doesn't mean we have to do everything and engage in everything, but when we lead, other nations do follow, so I would encourage this administration to be very firm, be very strong, and let's get back to where we need to be around the world."
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