After the destruction of an A-50 spy plane, the Russian Air Force began operating another aircraft of this model in a more secure area, further eastwards from Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its report on Jan. 19.
This indicates that the A-50 aircraft, reportedly destroyed on Jan. 14, was downed by Ukrainian forces rather than suffering an accident, the ministry noted.
Earlier this week, the Ukrainian military confirmed that it had destroyed a Russian A-50 plane and an Il-22 airborne control center, adding to Moscow's recent aerial losses.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment on the planes' destruction.
According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, Russia began flying another A-50 plane within Russian territory near Krasnodar Krai on Jan. 17. Moving the aircraft further away may result in a "loss to its overall effectiveness over Ukraine," the ministry said.
The A-50 aircraft provides several critical functions for the ongoing war in Ukraine, such as detecting air defense systems, guided missiles, and coordinating targets for Russian fighter jets. Russia operates fewer than 10 in its fleet.