The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense mocked Russian forces over Twitter Wednesday after reports that a Soviet-era bomber was shot out of the sky near Bakhmut.
Iryna Rybakova, press officer for Ukraine’s 93rd separate mechanized brigade, told Ukrainian broadcaster Hromadske that Kyiv’s forces took down a Russian Su-24 supersonic bomber near Bakhmut. In a video of the incident shared on Telegram by Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, the Russian bomber is shown engulfed in flames and smoke. Yermak’s video also shows what appears to be the pilot of the plane being ejected from the wreckage.
On Twitter, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine posted its own video of the incident, capturing the moment that the Russian plane disappeared from air-traffic controls near the southeast corner of Bakhmut.
“The most mysterious place in Ukraine is the Bakhmut triangle, where russian planes have been disappearing for a year now…” the ministry wrote.
According to the weapons-tracking site Oryx, Russia has lost a total of 352 aircraft since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine, which includes any aircraft, helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles that have been destroyed, damaged or captured in the war.
Reports of the Su-24 being shot down Wednesday were not independently verified. Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry via email for comment.
Bakhmut has faced some of the bloodiest battles in the Russia-Ukraine war. The industrial city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has been on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s radar for months, and Moscow officials claim that capturing Bakhmut would give them a direct path into other major cities.
Both sides have taken heavy losses in the battle, including when Ukrainian officials claimed on Monday that its troops had killed 710 Russian military personnel in the previous 24 hours. Russia claimed on Sunday that 220 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in a single day of fighting in the Donetsk region.
One Ukrainian solider described the fighting in Bakhmut as “being sent to death” in an interview with The Kyiv Independent published Wednesday. According to 54-year-old Volodymyr, whose last name is withheld for his safety, Kyiv’s forces were at times ill-equipped to return fire on Russian shelling and artillery attacks.
Zelensky reiterated on Tuesday, however, that the Ukrainian military’s “main focus” is in Bakhmut.
The battle for Bakhmut appears it might be coming to an end, including reports from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, who said his mercenaries had captured a small Ukrainian village northwest of the city Wednesday.
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