RUSSIA has shot down one of its $36 million Su-34 jets over Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian media outlets have claimed.
The Sukhoin Su-34, a medium-range fighter-bomber, was accidentally downed near Alchecvsk, which is currently under occupation by Kremlin-backed separatist forces.
Various videos of the incident have been shared on the Telegram messaging app, Tiktok and on Twitter.
Russian war correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny published a video over night which he claimed shows Russian/Luhansk People’s Republic air defenses destroying a target over Alchevsk.
The footage appears to show a plane ablaze falling from the sky.
Poddubny alleged the crew had survived.
Pro-Russian former commander Igor Girkin, who is critical of Moscow’s approach to the invasion, also posted apparent evidence of the friendly-fire strike.
Indeed, Girkin, who is a self-described Russian nationalist who orchestrated the annexation of Crimea in 2014, posted a video showing charred remains of a Su-34 on TikTok.
An inscription on the plane, which is still visible, shows that the jet belongs to Russia’s Air Force.
Local media claim the plane was shot down by Russia’s own air defense in a case of friendly fire.
A Telegram user called Ruslan allegedly wrote: “The jet is ours unfortunately. Sometimes it happens. I heard the info from a friend, I thought bulls**t, but it was confirmed.”
Ukrainian news outlet dialog.ua suggested the incident may have taken place on Sunday when the Ukrainian army launched an assault on military warehouses in the occupied city.
Russian authorities are yet to comment on the allegations.
The Russian Air Forces received their first high-tech Su-34 jets in June this year.
Russia, – one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the world – has so far struggled to win control over Ukrainian skies.
Indeed, with an estimated 4,000 combat aircraft and vast experience bombing targets in wars and combat zones in Syria, Georgia and Chechnya, Russia was expected to gain air supremacy.
Experts have suggested flawed logistics operations and a lack of regular and realistic training have plighted the recent modernisation of the Russian Air Force – despite the acquisition of the overplayed SU-34 strike aircraft.
The Ukrainian Air Force, although it possesses limited airpower resources, has so far managed to grow their offensive air capabilities and adapted their air operations.
This has allowed them to block any Russian air dominance.
The Air Force efforts have also been bolstered by an extensive range of air and anti-air capabilities – from handled portable surface-to-air missiles to longer-range S-300 missile systems from Slovakia and drones used to identify Russian ground-to-air missiles.
The Su-34 disaster comes on the eight anniversary of the MH-17 downing.
The jet was hit by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile, killing 298 passengers and crew.
The dead included ten Britons, 193 Dutch, 38 Australians and 43 Malaysians. Eighty victims were children.
The Malyasian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly taken down by Russia on July 17, 2014.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane two hours and 49 minutes after takeoff when it was about 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.
A 15-month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board revealed the aircraft had crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile.
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