Two Russian jets and two military helicopters were shot down near the Ukrainian border, while a fifth aircraft crashed Saturday on the Russian side, according to Russian news reports.
A Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter jet, and two Mi-8 helicopters had been “shot down almost simultaneously” in an ambush in the Bryansk region of Russia, which borders northeast Ukraine, Kommersant, an independent Russian news website, reported.
The aircraft were reportedly a raiding party sent to carry out an attack on Ukraine when they were gunned down.
“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,” Kommersant reported.
The Russian state news agency TASS said that a Su-34 warplane crashed and also cited an emergency service official who said an engine fire caused a helicopter to crash near Klintsy, which is about 25 miles from the Ukrainian border.
The state news agency did not mention the Su-35 or a second helicopter, but Tass did say that a Russian Su-34 warplane crashed in the Bryansk region in Russia.
A video posted to the Russian Telegram channel Voyenniy Osvedomitel, a pro-war channel with about a half a million followers, also showed a helicopter exploding in the sky before falling to the ground in flames.
The Russian media outlet Readovka also reported the downed aircraft, which have not yet been independently confirmed.
“Two helicopters and fighter-bombers were shot down by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” the site reported.
Our pilots were ambushed and we are talking about a carefully planned operation,”
Success fighting in the skies was matched by Ukrainian forces advancing in areas near the ravaged town of Bakhmut, the backdrop for some of the war’s bloodiest battles.
“Our soldiers are moving forward in some areas of the front, and the enemy is losing equipment and manpower,” Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, said on Telegram on Saturday.
Syrskyi’s update came after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group that has been fighting to capture Bakhmut for months, said earlier in the week that his troops were fleeing because of the “stupidity” of Russian commanders in a video posted to Telegram.
“A soldier shouldn’t die because of his leaders’ absolute stupidity,” he said. “The commands they receive from the top are absolutely criminal.”
The U.K. Ministry of Defense confirmed Russian troops have been fleeing Bakhmut in an update posted Saturday.
“Over the last four days, elements of Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (72 SMRB) likely withdrew in bad order from their positions on the southern flank of the Bakhmut operation,” the intelligence assessment said. “Ukrainian forces regained at least a kilometre of territory,” or about two-thirds of a mile.
The agency said that the Russian brigade, has been “dogged by allegations of poor morale and limited combat effectiveness” before the retreat.
In other parts of the country, Ukrainian forces reportedly destroyed two Russian self-propelled artillery systems in Kherson, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces wrote on Facebook.
“During aerial reconnaissance in the Kherson direction, the Special Operations Forces discovered camouflaged positions of two self-propelled artillery systems,” the post said. “The enemy equipment was disposed of by accurate drops from drones.”
An explosion also reportedly rocked the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk, where Moscow claimed Ukraine used British Storm Shadow missiles to carry out the attack.
“Storm Shadow air-to-air missiles supplied to the Kyiv regime by Britain were used for the strike, contrary to London’s statements that these weapons would not be used against civilian targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that the missiles could be used within Ukrainian territory, implying that he had been assured that they would not be used to carry out attacks in Russia, Reuters reported.