Ukraine claims to have shot down another Russian early warning and control plane

Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian early warning and surveillance aircraft on Friday, the air force chief said – a major victory for the country as its military struggles to repel persistent Russian attacks along the front line as the war is entering its third year.

General Mykola Oleshchuk thanked Ukraine’s military intelligence service for its help in downing the Russian A-50 jet on Russia’s military holiday on Friday.

“Congratulations to the conquerors on Defender of the Fatherland Day,” Oleshchuk said on a sardonic note.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the United Nations Security Council on Friday afternoon in New York that as he discussed the war, an airstrike took place and hit a residential building in the southern port city of Odessa. He said two civilians were “seriously injured” and taken to hospital.

Ukrainian media carried footage purported to show a huge fire that broke out when the large warplane 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 emergency officials in the Krasnodar region said a plane had crashed in the area without identifying it. Several Russian military bloggers confirmed the loss of the aircraft and some claimed it was downed in a friendly accident.

If confirmed, the downing of the plane 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 commented on the Ukrainian claim, but Russian bloggers and some media have confirmed the loss of the aircraft.

Ukraine’s military intelligence service said the A-50 was downed over the Sea of ​​Azov, describing it as “another serious blow to Moscow’s terrorist capabilities and capabilities.” He released a diagram purporting to show its flight path, noting that the Russian military used the $350 million aircraft to direct missile strikes at Ukraine.

Capable of detecting targets up to 650 kilometers (400 miles) away, the A-50 is a key command center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground. Such planes are fundamental tools to aid Russian movements on the battlefield in Ukraine. It carries a large radar on top of it and typically has a crew of 15. The Russian Air Force reportedly operates a fleet of only nine such aircraft.

If the downing of the valuable Russian aircraft is confirmed, it will act as a major morale booster for Ukraine after loss of Avdiivka, a strategic eastern city;. It was captured by Russian forces last weekend after a fierce four-month battle in which they brought significant battlefield advantage in men, aircraft and artillery.

Emboldened by its first major victory in the war in nine months, Moscow appears determined to capitalize on its superiority as it shifts its economy on a war footing.

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

Officials in Kiev have pleaded with Ukraine’s Western partners to speed up the delivery of military aid so that its forces can withstand the onslaught. The front line, which runs more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) across eastern and southern Ukraine, has not changed much ahead of the war’s two-year anniversary on February 24.

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