Ukraine's Air Force claims to shoot down 3 Russian Su-34 fighters

Ukraine’s Air Force claims to shoot down 3 Russian Su-34 fighters

Ukraine claimed its Air Force shot down three Russian Su-34 fighter bombers on Friday amid a surge in attacks in the southern Kherson region. File Photo by Oleg Belyakov/Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 23 (UPI) — Ukraine’s military leaders claimed Saturday they have shot down three Russian fighter jets on the southern front, marking a first in the 22-month-old war between the countries.

The trio of Su-34 fighter bombers were brought down over Kherson region on Friday, the Ukrainian military General Staff announced in a social media update.

“Over the past day, the Defense Forces Aviation has struck 12 areas of concentration, weapons and military equipment of enemy. Also, the air defense destroyed 3 Su-34 fighter bomber,” they said.

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky acknowledged the downed aircraft in his nightly address on Friday.

“Grateful to our soldiers who destroyed three Russian Sukhoi aircraft at once in the South, in our Kherson region,” he said. “It’s the gain of our Air Force and the direct action of the Odessa Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. Thank you, guys! And may every Russian pilot be well aware of our response to every Russian killer — none of them will go unpunished.”

Official Russian media did not mention the downing of the aircraft on Saturday, but Russian bloggers writing on the Telegram messaging app acknowledged the loss, Sky News reported, adding that analysts told Ukrainian television U.S.-supplied Patriot missiles had probably been used.

The claims came as Russian forces stepped up their attacks on the southern Kherson region over the weekend.

Ukrainian presidential office deputy chief Oleksiy Kuleba said Saturday in a Facebook post there have been almost 500 attacks in the area with more than 2,500 shells fired since the beginning of this week.

“This is an average of one hundred attacks per day,” he wrote, adding that two people were killed and another 28 wounded in the Kherson region.

“We are strengthening sky protection in every region of Ukraine,” Kuleba said. “Most Russian drones today [were shot down by] mobile fire groups. Their work is effective and helps to save missiles to destroy enemy winged missiles and aviation.”

Ukrainian demonstrators rally in Kyiv on February 12, 2022 to show unity amid U.S. warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. Photo by Oleksandr Khomenko/UPI | License Photo  » …
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