Ukraine reports jump in downed Russian planes – BBC News

  • By Vitaly Shevchenko
  • Russia Editor, BBC Monitoring

Image source, Russian Defence Ministry

Image caption,

SU-34s are among the prised Russian assets Ukraine says it has shot down

Ukraine’s military says it has shot down 10 Russian military jets in as many days, which marks a sharp increase over the preceding months.

The claim comes despite shortages experienced by Ukrainian forces due to delays in Western supplies.

Ukraine says a total of 342 Russian planes and 325 helicopters have been shot down since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

These figures cannot be independently verified. Russia does not comment.

“Another one! In addition to the one in the morning!” Ukraine’s General Staff announced in a Facebook post on the afternoon of 27 February.

“Oops, we did it again!” the Ukrainian defence ministry quipped on X (formerly known as Twitter). “And now it’s 10 destroyed Russian planes in 10 days!”

Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk says the latest two downed Russian aircraft are Su-34 bombers – both shot down in the east of the country.

“Given such losses of fighter and special aircraft, the Russians should have a think and stop their aviation meat grinders at least for some time,” he said.

Gen Oleshchuk was referring to a Russian military tactic which is characterised by large numbers of troops thrown into battle with no regard for their lives.

Ukraine says it shot down some of the best aircraft available to the Russian air force between 17 and 27 February.

They include a highly sophisticated and rare A-50 military spy plane. If confirmed, this would be the second A-50 downed in just over a month, an embarrassing loss for Russia and a significant win for Ukraine.

The other Russian planes Ukraine claims to have destroyed in the time period are seven Su-34s and two S-35 fighter jets.

One weapon Ukraine is likely to have used is the US-supplied Patriot surface-to-air missile.

The higher number of Russian planes claimed to have been shot down recently suggests that “Ukraine is being more aggressive with risking Patriot launchers close to the frontlines in order to engage Russian jets,” Justin Bronk, a senior research fellow at the London-based think-tank Rusi, told the BBC.

The recent uptick has a number of potential explanations, including increased deployment of such aircraft by Russia and more effective air defence systems used by Ukraine.

But without accurate information on resources deployed on the battlefield, it can be hard to fully explain the increase in Ukrainian claims.

Such an increase, though, is nonetheless noteworthy.

Additional reporting by Alex Murray, from BBC Verify

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