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ISW: Russia reducing aviation activity in Ukraine after losing several Su-34 jets

by Dinara Khalilova December 25, 2023 2:32 PM 2 min read
A Su-34 in the sky over Kubinka airfield in Moscow Oblast in Russia on Aug. 29, 2020. (Mihail Tokmakov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Russian forces are decreasing aviation activity and use of glide bombs after Ukraine’s military shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber jets on Dec. 21-22, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on Dec. 24.

The ISW cited Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat and military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets saying that Russian troops have limited their use of glide bombs and air strikes in southern Ukraine as well as manned aviation near occupied Crimea.

Ukraine’s Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk announced on Dec. 22 that his troops had downed three Russian Su-34 supersonic fighter-bomber aircraft on the southern front. Three days later, the Air Force reported the downing of another Su-34 plane and a Su-30 fighter jet.

Previously, the Russian military had intensified the use of glide bombs against Ukrainian forces on the west bank of the Dnipro River partially due to Ukraine’s suppression of Russian long-range artillery in the area, according to the ISW.

“Continued decreased Russian glide bomb strikes in Kherson Oblast may present an opportunity for Ukrainian forces to operate more freely in near rear areas on the west bank and establish a safer position on the east bank from which to conduct future operations if the Ukrainian high command so chose,” reads the think-tank’s assessment.

As of Dec. 24, Ukrainian soldiers hold positions on the Dnipro River’s east bank in Kherson Oblast, but neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces have made confirmed advances in the area, added the ISW.

Ukraine has been conducting raids into the eastern bank, captured by Russian troops at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, since February.

Russian forces reportedly use glide bomb strikes to keep Russian aircraft 50 to 70 kilometers away from the combat line.

According to the ISW, the reduced Russian use of glide bombs suggests that Russian military leadership is concerned about Ukrainian air defense capabilities after recent losses of fighter jets.

Ukrainian soldiers storming eastern bank of Dnipro fear their mission is hopeless
Editor’s note: Full names and the deployment locations of the soldiers interviewed for this story are not disclosed since they weren’t authorized to speak to the press. KHERSON OBLAST – Mortars are the first things that greet the Ukrainian soldiers who are lucky enough to make it across the Dnipro
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