Ukraine claims to down three Russian fighter bomber jets

By Isaac M December 23, 2023

Ukraine’s military has claimed it shot down three Russian fighter jets in the south of the country.

The Su-34 fighter bombers were reportedly brought down in the Kherson region on Friday, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the air force.

President Zelenskyy praised Odesa’s anti-aircraft unit in his nightly video address.

Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukrainian air force commander, wrote on messaging app Telegram: “Today at noon in the southern sector – minus three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers.”

Air force spokesperson Yuri Ihnat described it on national television as a “brilliantly planned operation”.

“There haven’t been Su-34s for some time in our positive statistics,” he said, citing the model as one of Russia’s most modern aircraft for bombing and other assaults.

The region was occupied in the first days of Moscow’s February 2022 invasion.

Ukrainian forces have sought to regain territory and in November established positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson.

Russia has not commented on the reported downing of its jets, but influential Russian bloggers have acknowledged the loss.

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Eurasia Daily, a Russia-based journal, said US-supplied Patriot missiles – which have a range of up to 100 miles against high-altitude targets – could have been launched from the western side of the Dnipro River.

Ukrainian aviation expert Valeriy Romanenko told Ukrainian NV Radio he believed Patriot missiles most likely downed the planes.

Mr Romanenko claimed the Russians were “dropping up to 100 bombs in the south”, adding: “Three were flying together and got caught.

“They didn’t quite take into account that the Patriot has a range of 160km for aerodynamic targets.”

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Intense fighting in Ukraine’s winter

Ukrainian successes have become less frequent since its forces made lightning gains a year ago in retaking Russian-held territory in the northeast and the south.

A counteroffensive launched in the east and south in June has had limited progress.

President Zelenskyy has acknowledged that gains have been slower than hoped but has dismissed assertions by the military commander-in-chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, that the war has entered a phase of “attrition” requiring a change in tactics.


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