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Media: At least 24 aircraft in Russia, Belarus, Crimea destroyed or damaged by Ukraine over full-scale war

by Martin Fornusek August 30, 2023 10:02 PM 2 min read
A Tu-22M3 strategic bomber destroyed at Soltsy-2 Airbase, Novgorod Oblast, Russia, Aug. 19, 2023. (Source: Twitter) 
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Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, Russian airbases suffered at least nine strikes, leading to damage or destruction of at least 24 military aircraft in Russia, Belarus, and occupied Crimea, the Russian independent news outlet Verstka reported on Aug. 30.

Attributing the attacks to the Ukrainian military, the outlet presented a list of incidents that led to the damage or the loss of a military plane in the Russian rear. Kyiv officials often avoid publicly taking responsibility for strikes against Russian targets outside of Ukraine.

Verstka based its conclusions on data from Russia's Defense Ministry, media reports, and open-source intelligence (OSINT) researchers. In some cases, Ukrainian officials reported higher losses to Russian aircraft than the outlet presented.

The first attack was reported shortly after the start of the invasion on Feb. 25, 2022. A Russian transport plane was destroyed while based at the Millerovo airfield in Rostov Oblast, presumably destroyed either by a drone or a Tochka-U missile, Verstka said.

Four Su-30SM fighters and seven Su-24M bombers were destroyed in an Aug. 9, 2022 attack against the Saki airbase in Crimea. On Dec. 5, 2022, drone strikes against the Engels-2 and Dyagilevo airbases in Saratov and Ryazan oblasts led to the damage of one Tu-22M3 and two Tu-95 bombers.

An A-50 early warning and control plane was reportedly damaged by quadrocopters while stationed at the Machulishchy airfield in Belarus. The Belarusian opposition reported at the time that the attack was conducted by local partisans.

In early May, drones attacked an airfield in the village of Seshcha in Bryansk Oblast, damaging an An-124 transport plane.

The frequency of the strikes against Russian airbases increased in August. At least two Tu-22M3 bombers were destroyed and one was damaged in attacks against Novgorod and Kaluga oblasts on Aug. 19 and 21, Verstka reported.

Although the chief of Ukraine's military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov did not confirm that Kyiv was behind the two aforementioned attacks, he said that two bombers were destroyed and two more were damaged in the process.

Most recently, four Il-76 transport planes were damaged at a military airfield in the Russian city of Pskov overnight on Aug. 30, Verstka said. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the four planes have been destroyed, and two other aircraft were likely damaged.

According to Budanov, Russia currently deploys 436 military aircraft in offensive operations against Ukraine.

Intelligence chief: Russia has 27 operable Tu-22M3 bombers left following recent strikes
Following recent strikes against Russian military airports in Soltsy and Shaykovka, the Russian Air Force currently fields 27 operable Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on Aug. 23.
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