Russia, Ukraine exchange claims over downed military aircraft

Russia, Ukraine exchange claims over downed military aircraft

Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan, Russia August 27, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

MOSCOW, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Russian and Ukrainian military officials both reported downing enemy planes on Sunday in different areas of the 1,000-km-long (621-mile) front of their 22-month-old war.

The head of Ukraine’s air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, said Ukrainian anti-aircraft units had struck a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber near the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov in southern Ukraine.

Oleshchuk, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said the aircraft had not returned to its base, but gave no further information.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said earlier that its air defence systems had shot down four Ukrainian military aircraft over the past 24 hours — just two days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Kyiv had downed three Russian aircraft.

In its daily dispatch, the Russian Defence Ministry said its air defence shot down three Su-27 fighter planes and one Su-24 tactical bomber in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions of southeastern Ukraine. The dispatch gave no further details.

On Friday, Zelenskiy said the country’s forces shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft on the southern front, hailing it as a success in the war.

Air Force chief Oleshchuk also said the planes had been downed.

Reuters was not quickly able to corroborate the battlefield reports from either side.

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