Reports of the downing of four Russian military aircraft near the Ukrainian border

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By Webdesk

Russian news outlet Kommersant has reported that two Russian fighter jets and two military helicopters were shot down close to the Ukrainian border in Russia’s Bryansk region in what would be a stunning military operation for Kiev if confirmed.

Kommersant, a respected independent business-oriented daily, said on its website Saturday that a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter and two Mi-8 helicopters that had formed a military strike party were “shot dead” almost down simultaneously” in an ambush in the Bryansk region, bordering northeastern Ukraine.

“According to preliminary data… the fighters were to launch a missile and bomb strike against targets in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, and the helicopters were there to support them – including picking up the ‘Su’ crews if they were . shot,” the media outlet reported.

Kommersant provided no evidence for its report that the four planes had been shot down by Ukrainian forces, but the same claim was also made by several heavily followed prowar military bloggers.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no official response from Ukraine, which usually refuses to comment on reports of attacks on Russian territory, though pro-Ukrainian social media was awash with speculation that the downing of the four planes was not accidental.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote in a tweet that the Russian plane planned to carry out a “missile bomb attack” on Ukraine’s Chernihiv region but was “destroyed by ‘unidentified persons'” , which he described as “direct Karma”.

“Killers on wings were destroyed BEFORE the next crime was committed,” he wrote.

Russia’s state news agency TASS reported on Saturday that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet had crashed in that region, but did not specify a cause.

TASS also reported that an emergency services official said an engine fire on a Russian helicopter had caused it to crash near the Bryansk town of Klintsy, about 40 km (25 mi) from the border with Ukraine. The report made no mention of the Su-35 or a second Russian helicopter crashing or being shot down.

A video posted on Russia’s prowar Telegram channel Voyenniy Osvedomitel, which has about half a million followers, showed a helicopter high in the sky experiencing an explosion, being thrown off course, then crashing to the ground in flames and later sending a huge plume of thick black smoke rising from the apparent crash site.

Comments accompanying the video, which the Reuters news agency could not immediately verify, said it showed an Mi-8 being shot down by a missile. Other images posted by the channel and other military blog sites showed images of planes falling and wreckage in fields.

Voyenniy Osvedomitel said it appeared “most likely the enemy had set up an ambush with air defenses previously transferred to a border area close enough to hit our group”.

It said the downed helicopters appeared to be Mi-8MTPR-1 electronic warfare craft capable of jamming enemy radio and target signals.

The news site Kommersant said all four crew members had died.

Ukraine’s The Kyiv Independent reported that Russian authorities are now looking for “saboteurs” in connection with the destruction of the military plane.

The Institute for the Study of War said geolocated images from the crash sites placed the incident about 50 km (31 mi) from the Ukrainian border.

“Russian [military bloggers] speculated that all four planes crashed as a result of a coordinated Ukrainian strike using air defense systems moved into the border area of ​​Chernihiv Oblast,” the Washington, D.C.-based think tank reported.

“Several Russian Milbloggers took advantage of the incident to criticize aspects of how Russian space forces conduct air operations and to accuse the leaders responsible for these aircraft of gross negligence and incompetence,” the ISW reported.

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine reported numerous Russian drone strikes and several explosions in the western Ukrainian region of Khmelnytsky. According to the mayor of the regional capital of the same name, Oleksandr Symchyshyn, critical infrastructure was hit and people were injured.

Authorities said 11 people were injured. Railway facilities were also affected, according to reports.

A total of 18 out of 22 Shahed-131/136-type Iranian “kamikaze drones” were shot down during the night strikes, the ISW reported, according to the Ukrainian military.

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