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Zaluzhnyi confirms Ukraine downed Russian A-50 plane and IL-22 command aircraft

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 15, 2024 1:32 PM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. A Russian A-50 airplane and Su-27 fighter jets fly over the Kremlin near Red Square in Moscow on May 6, 2010. (Alexey Sazonov/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Ukrainian Air Force destroyed a Russian A-50 military aircraft and an Il-22 airborne control center, Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said on Jan. 15.

His confirmation came a day after RBC-Ukraine and several other Ukrainian media outlets reported on the downing of a Russian A-50 plane over the Azov Sea, citing an unnamed source in the Ukrainian military. The RBC-Ukraine source said that an Il-22 was also hit and damaged.

"I thank the Air Force for a perfectly planned and executed operation in the Pryazovia region," Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram.

He didn't share further details, but according to reports, the A-50 plane was shot down immediately after it went on duty in the Kyrylivka area of Zaporizhzhia Oblast at 9:10 p.m. local time.

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The downing of a Russian A-50 military aircraft and an Il-22 airborne control center on Jan. 14, 2024. (Valerii Zaluzhnyi/Telegram)

According to RBC-Ukraine, the Il-22M was on duty in the Strilkove area of Kherson Oblast before it was reportedly hit along the coast of the Azov Sea at around 9 p.m. local time.

Russia's 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 only possesses nine of these planes.

In late December 2023, Ukrainian forces destroyed four Russian planes in a week — three Russian Su-34 supersonic fighter-bomber aircraft and one Su-34 fighter-bomber jet near occupied Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast.

According to the military, Russian troops drastically reduced the number of attacks in the Tavria sector of the front line after these losses.

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Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Estonia has been one of Ukraine’s most reliable allies since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion. A small Baltic country of just 1.3 million people that also shares a border with Russia, Estonia has provided
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