Vladimir Putin’s air force has been bombed by Ukraine for the past ten days; Ten of his fighter jets worth a total of £600 million were allegedly destroyed in an embarrassing setback for the invaders.
Announcing that two of Russia’s Su-34 fighter-bombers had been shot out of the sky yesterday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry boasted of having eliminated ten enemy aircraft in as many days, a rate of losses that the Russian air force cannot sustain.
The loss of the bombers will have cost Putin’s army millions, each worth £39 million ($50 million). Other aircraft Kiev claims to have retired this month include two SU-35 jets, which cost £34 million ($43 million) each, and an A-50U AWACS reconnaissance plane, which intelligence reports cost Russia £260 million. ($330 million).
The attacks will be a welcome success for kyiv, but they come at a difficult time, with Russia advancing and recently claiming its first major victory since May at Avdiivka after months of bitter fighting.
Ukraine’s weapons supplies have also been strangled, with shortages of ammunition, including its crucial 90-mile-range, American-made Patriot air defense missiles, making it even more important for Ukrainian forces to hit their targets.
The dramatic moment was caught on video and follows a claim from kyiv yesterday that two Vladimir Putin Su-34 fighter-bombers and one Su-35 fighter, totaling more than $100 million, had been shot down.
Two Russian planes were shot down on Monday and a grainy image shared by the head of Ukraine’s Air Force purports to show the moment the remains of one fell from the sky.
Dramatic images have emerged in recent days showing what Ukraine says are Russian fighter jets and a reconnaissance plane plummeting from the sky over the east of the country.
In a post on Telegram, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force used the success as a warning to Russian troops: “I advise the occupants to see their relatives before each flight, just in case. Because who knows, this time he will be lucky or not.’
He added that Russia would do well to reconsider its “meat air strikes” given the level of destruction of its air force in such a short time.
‘Russian planes keep falling!’ said the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Ten days earlier, Ukraine shot down two Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers and one Su-35 fighter in the skies over eastern Ukraine, according to the air force chief.
The Russian FighterBomber Telegram channel initially claimed that “there were no losses” and that the Ukrainians were “lying.”
Other Russian channels “confirmed that the Ukrainian military shot down at least one Russian Su-35 aircraft.”
“On the morning of February 17, 2024, in the eastern (sector), units of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed three enemy aircraft at once: two Su-34 fighter-bombers and one Su-35 fighter,” Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on Telegram.
‘This is our land and our sky!’ He declared himself victorious and added: ‘There will be more…don’t hang around!’
He kept his word, and another Su-25 and five more Su-34s were reportedly destroyed in successive attacks.
The destruction of the nine aircraft would represent a loss to Moscow of advanced fighter aircraft worth a total of more than £341 million.
Ukrainian forces have shot down seven Su-34 bombers in the last 10 days (file photo)
Mykola Oleshchuk said that two Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers and one Su-35 fighter (file photo) in the skies over eastern Ukraine
On February 23, Ukraine dealt another blow to Moscow’s forces, shooting down a £330m Russian spy plane over Krasnodar.
Video showed huge plumes of smoke rising from the wreckage after the wing of the A-50U reconnaissance plane was reportedly torn off by the impact of a refurbished Soviet-era S-200 long-range air defense missile. a stunning blow to Russia’s already dwindling collection.
Ten crew members were reported to have been found dead at the crash site, although planes typically carry 15, meaning the death toll could be higher.
It fell in Russia’s Krasnodar region, home to Putin’s official Black Sea residence and his billion-pound private palace.
Russia now has only six of its state-of-the-art spy planes left after another of the expensive planes was shot out of the sky last month, according to Ukraine.
Russian sources initially blamed friendly fire, but Ukrainian sources said the A-50U was shot down “as part of a joint operation of [Kyiv’s] Main Directorate of Intelligence and Air Force of Ukraine”.
On February 23, Ukraine dealt another blow to Moscow’s forces, shooting down a $330 million Russian A-50 spy plane (file image)
Video showed smoke rising from the site of a spy plane crash in Krasnodar, western Russia.
The loss of the A-50U – the second in six weeks – will deal a blow to Putin’s aerial reconnaissance, harming Russia’s ability to identify targets for missile strikes and monitor deployments on the Ukrainian battlefield.
Some accounts say that it was flying over the Sea of Azov when it was hit.
Fell near Primorsko-Akhtarsk.
The military intelligence directorate of the GUR of Ukraine said: “The last flight of the A-50U took place on February 23, 2024 at 15:50 from the Akhtubinsk airfield and was to carry out terrorist tasks of the aggressor state of Russia near of the Primorsko settlements -Akhtarsk – Zernograd.
‘An abrupt stoppage of work on the Bumblebee radar complex… was recorded by the radio technical intelligence stations of the GUR at 18:45.
‘The fire damage to the modernized A-50U of the Russian Air Force was confirmed by radio interception of the conversation of the Su-35 cover crew.
“One of the Russian pilots reports by radio that he observed the work of air defense, flashes and explosions.”
“Congratulations to the occupiers on Defender of the Fatherland Day,” General Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of the Ukrainian aroid force, said sardonically.
Since receiving advanced Western air defense systems, kyiv has been able to deploy these weapons to pose an increasing threat to Russian aviation.
The successes come as the war moves into its third year, and kyiv continues to press for support as Moscow holds its line and makes recent gains in the east of the country.