A Ukrainian reconnaissance unit, led by fallen Colonel Oleh Babii, was responsible for the destruction or disabling of three Russian Tu-22M3 bombers in August 2023, Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) revealed on Jan. 23.
Last summer, the Russian Air Force suffered five bombers damaged or destroyed in a series of attacks attributed by the Ukrainian media to Ukraine's military intelligence. Russian forces regularly use Tu-22M3 bombers, commonly armed with AS-4 heavy anti-ship missiles, in airstrikes against Ukraine.
The military intelligence agency now confirmed that Kyiv was responsible for the sabotage of at least three of these planes, revealing new details of the operation.
Babii and his unit reportedly covered over 600 kilometers on foot through enemy territory to "stop the Russian terrorist bombardment of peaceful Ukrainian cities."
Making their way to the Russian rear, the unit successfully destroyed one bomber and disabled two others, the military intelligence agency said.
The operation "destabilized the operation of airfields and air bases" and "caused significant economic losses to the aggressor country and started panic among the local population and Russian military personnel," according to the agency.
While heading back to Ukrainian-held territory, the group was reportedly ambushed by Russian forces. In an uneven fight on Aug. 30, 2023, Babii was killed while covering the retreat of his soldiers, according to the report.
Babii, who was survived by his wife and two children, was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
The colonel was a seasoned officer who led nine reconnaissance forays into the Russian rear. He was also responsible for 12 special operations in Russia or in support of resistance in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine, the military agency said.
Babii's operations reportedly had a significant effect on the tide of the war. Thanks to his unit, "it was possible to disrupt Russian logistics and destroy important targets and critical infrastructure elements."