Four Russian military aircraft ‘shot down’ inside home territory

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Russian news outlet Kommersant said two Russian fighter jets and two military helicopters had been shot down close to the Ukrainian border, in what would be a spectacular coup for Kyiv if confirmed.

Kommersant said on its website that the Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter and two Mi-8 helicopters had made up a raiding party, and had been “shot down almost simultaneously” in an ambush in the Bryansk region, adjoining northeast Ukraine.

Russian rockets launch against Ukraine from Russia’s Belgorod region are seen at dawn in Kharkiv, Ukraine, early Sunday, May 14.Credit: AP

“According to preliminary data … the fighters were supposed to deliver a missile and bomb attack on targets in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, and the helicopters were there to back them up – among other things to pick up the ‘Su’ crews if they were shot down.”

The Russian state news agency TASS said a Russian Su-34 warplane had crashed in that region but did not specify a cause.

TASS also cited an emergency services official as saying an engine fire in a helicopter had caused it to crash near Klintsy, which is about 40 kilometres from the border.

It made no mention of the Su-35, or of a second helicopter.

A video posted on the Russian pro-war Telegram channel Voyenniy Osvedomitel showed a helicopter high in the sky suffering an explosion, being thrown off course and then plunging towards the ground in flames.

Comments accompanying the video, which Reuters could not immediately verify, said it showed a Mi-8 being shot down by a missile. Other images posted by the channel showed wreckage in an agricultural field.

Kommersant provided no evidence for its report that four aircraft had been downed, but the same assertion was also made by several heavily followed pro-war military bloggers.

Later on Saturday, Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz said a Ukrainian drone had hit a food production plant in Starodub, close to the Ukraine border, damaging the roof. Bogomaz, writing on Telegram, said there were no casualties.

The incident occurred two days after Bogomaz reported a drone strike on an oil storage depot in the region.

The Moscow Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Kommersant report.

Voyenniy Osvedomitel said it appeared that “most likely, the enemy staged an ambush with air defences previously transferred to a border zone close enough to hit our group”.

It said the downed helicopters appeared to be Mi-8MTPR-1 electronic warfare craft.

Kommersant said all four crews had been killed.

There was no official response from Ukraine, which usually declines to comment on reports of attacks inside Russia.

However, in a Twitter post, Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called the incident “Justice … and instant karma”.

Earlier this month, explosions derailed freight trains on two consecutive days in the Bryansk region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was received in Berlin by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday in his first visit to the country since Russia’s invasion as he tours European allies seeking to shore up support.

Zelensky arrived in the middle of the night in Berlin from Rome, where he met with both Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis, who indicated that the Vatican would help in the repatriation of Ukrainian children taken by Russians.

Germany, which is Europe’s largest economy, faced criticism at the start of the war for what some called a hesitant response, but it has become one of Ukraine’s biggest providers of financial and military assistance, ahead of other European powers like France.

Pope Francis meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a private audience at The Vatican on Saturday, May 13.Credit: AP

Germany on Saturday announced €2.7 billion ($4.45 billion) of military aid to Ukraine, its biggest such package since the Russian invasion, and pledged further support for Kyiv for as long as necessary.

The country has also taken in around a million Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainian forces intercepted and destroyed three missiles and 25 drones overnight in the latest aerial attack on the country since the beginning of May, Ukraine’s air force said on Sunday.

Russia has increased the number of missile and drone attacks this month, which Kyiv attributes to Moscow’s fear of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.


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