The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleschuk, reported via Telegram that Ukrainian forces have successfully downed three Russian Su-34 strike aircraft in the southern sector as a response to the night attack by the “Shaheds” in Ukraine.
During the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 22, a message from the Russians on a piece of a downed Russian “Shahed” included the phrase: “Die, bitches.”
In response, Oleschuk declared, “Great idea! Here’s our answer! Today, at noon, in the Southern sector – minus three Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers!” with a sarcastic addition of “Eternal flight, ‘brothers’!”
Oleschuk did not disclose the details of the operation, including the exact location. The method by which the Ukrainian military destroyed the three aircraft also remains unknown. Some military-themed Telegram channels suggest the possible use of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system.
Social media users speculate that the destruction of three strike aircraft simultaneously could be a well-planned reconnaissance and air defense operation.
Su-34 [NATO codename “Fullback] aircraft is essentially a two-seat air-to-ground adaptation of the Su-27 “Fulcrum.” They are employed as launch platforms of guided aerial bombs and Kh-59 missiles, which the Russians use to attack the Kherson region and other areas of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian General Staff previously reported that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia, Ukrainian forces have shot down 324 Russian planes. Additionally, Ukrainian troops have successfully scored about the same number of Russian helicopters.
Overnight on Dec. 21-22, Russian troops launched an attack with 28 “Shaheds” from the districts of Kursk, Primorsko-Akhtarsk in Russia and Chauda in occupied-Crimea. Ukraine said Friday that its air defenses had destroyed 24 out of 28 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia overnight as two Kyiv residents were reported injured by a drone attack on a residential building.
Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv late Thursday, Dec. 21, and residents heard loud explosions.
City hall initially said air defenses were in action and called on people to stay in shelters.
“A residential building in Kyiv hit by a Shahed,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.
The attack impacted the Solomianskyi district, as reported by Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko on Telegram, who mentioned witnessing “flames on the upper floors.” One man was hospitalized, while another person received on-site treatment.
Kyiv’s military administration posted photos on social media showing apartment buildings with blown-out windows, attributing the damage to debris from a downed drone rather than a direct strike.
Klitschko also said that debris from another downed drone fell on a house in the Darnytskyi district in the eastern part of the city.
Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Air Force, hailed it as “another brilliantly planned operation to destroy the enemy on the approaches to our state.”
“This time, three planes at once in the southern sector – this hasn’t happened in a long time. The Su-34 hasn’t appeared in our positive statistics for quite a while,” Ihnat said.
The Air Force spokesperson highlighted that the Russians possess dozens of such aircraft and continue their production. According to him, these aircraft are among the newest models in service with the Russian military.
“I believe such a machine can cost at least $50 million. That’s the minimum price; fighters are intricate aviation complexes, extremely technological assets,” he added.
The fate of the six pilots/crewmembers, who take years to train at much expense, has not been disclosed at the time of publication.
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