Ukrainian Allegations of Downing Three Russian SU-34s

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and military officials announced that Ukraine's forces successfully downed three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft on the southern front on Friday, marking a significant victory in the ongoing 22-month war. The Russian military has not commented on the incident. Still, Russian bloggers have recognized the loss, and analysts have speculated that U.S.-supplied Patriot missiles were likely used, although these reports have not been independently verified.


"Minus three Russian Su-34 fighter bombers in the southern sector today at noon!" exclaimed Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk on the Telegram messaging app. Air Force spokesperson Yuri Ihnat hailed it as a "masterfully executed operation" on national television. He noted that the Su-34 model, one of Russia's most advanced aircraft for bombing and other attacks, had not been included in their positive statistics for some time.


In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy commended the anti-aircraft unit in the Odesa region for shooting down the planes in the Kherson region, which was occupied in the early days of Moscow's invasion in February 2022. Ukrainian forces have been striving to reclaim territory and established positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson in November.

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Eurasia Daily, a journal based in Russia, stated that the Ukrainian account seemed credible. It suggested that Kyiv could have launched Patriot missiles, which can target high-altitude objects up to 160 km (100 miles) away, from the western side of the Dnipro River. Ukrainian aviation expert Valeriy Romanenko told Ukrainian NV Radio that he believed the Russian jets were most likely brought down by Patriot missiles. He explained that the Russians were caught off guard while dropping up to 100 bombs in the south, not fully considering the 160 km range of the Patriot against aerodynamic targets. Ukrainian victories have become less common since its forces made rapid advances a year ago in recapturing Russian-controlled territory in the northeast and south. A counteroffensive initiated in the east and south in June has seen limited progress. Zelenskiy admits that progress has been slower than anticipated but rejects claims by the military commander in chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, that the war has entered a "stalemate" phase necessitating a shift in tactics.

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