Ukraine claims it downed another Russian early warning and control plane in a major blow to Moscow

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian warning and control plane on Friday, the air force chief said, a major victory for the country as the military fights to fend off continued Russian attacks along the front lines. the war is entering its third year.

Gen. Mykola Oleshchuk thanked Ukraine’s military intelligence for helping down the Russian A-50 aircraft during Russia’s military holiday Friday. “Congratulations to the occupiers on Defender of the Fatherland Day,” Oleshchuk said in a sardonic tone.

Ukrainian media circulated images purporting to show a massive fire that broke out when the large fighter plane crashed in the Krasnodar region on the eastern coast of the Sea of ​​Azov.

The Russian military did not comment on the Ukrainian claim, but aid officials in the Krasnodar region reported that a plane had crashed in the area without identifying it. Several Russian military bloggers confirmed the loss of the plane, with some claiming it was shot down in a friendly fire incident.

If confirmed, the downing of the aircraft would mark the loss of the second such aircraft in just over a month. Ukrainian officials said the country’s military shot down an A-50 over the Sea of ​​Azov on January 14. The Russian military has never responded to the Ukrainian claim, but Russian bloggers and some media have confirmed the loss of the plane.

Ukraine’s military intelligence said the A-50 was shot down over the Sea of ​​Azov, describing it as “another serious blow to the potential and capabilities of terrorist Moscow.” It published a diagram purportedly showing the flight path, noting that the Russian military used the $350 million plane to launch missile attacks on Ukraine.

The A-50, which can spot targets up to 400 miles away, is a key command center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground. Such aircraft are fundamental tools in directing Russian movements on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The A-50, which has a large radar on the top, typically has a crew of fifteen. The Russian Air Force reportedly has a fleet of just nine such aircraft.

If the downing of Russia’s precious air force is confirmed, it will provide a major morale boost for Ukraine after the loss of Adviidka, a strategic city in the east. It was captured by Russian forces last weekend after a fierce four-month battle significant advantage on the battlefield in terms of men, aircraft and artillery.

Encouraged by his first major victory in the war in nine monthsMoscow seems determined to do just that leverage its superiority while reforming its economy on a war footing.

The downing of the Russian plane will certainly also impress Ukraine’s Western allies.

Officials in Kiev have called on Ukraine’s Western partners to speed up the delivery of military aid so that armed forces can hold out against the onslaught. The more than 1,000 kilometer long front line through eastern and southern Ukraine has not changed much in the run-up to the two-year anniversary of the war on February 24.

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