Russian defence minister wants action to counter 'provocations' from US drones in Black Sea

Russian Defence Minister Belousov attends a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with commanders of troops of military districts, in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Defence Minister Andrei Belousov has ordered the army's General Staff to come up with proposals on how to promptly deal with "provocations" by U.S. strategic drones operating over the Black Sea, the defence ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement that it had noted increased activity in the area from U.S. drones which it said were carrying out reconaissance and gathering targeting information for high-precision Western weapons used by Ukraine to strike Russian facilities.

"This demonstrates the increasing involvement of the United States and NATO countries in the conflict in Ukraine on the side of the Kyiv regime," the defence ministry said.

"Such flights multiply the likelihood of airspace incidents with Russian aircraft, which increases the risk of a direct confrontation between the (NATO) alliance and the Russian Federation."

It said that NATO countries would be responsible for any such incidents.

The statement did not mention Crimea, the Black Sea region which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. But Russian military facilities in Crimea have been repeatedly targeted by Ukrainian forces, including with Western missiles.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)