Ukrainian forces have shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet with a RBS-70 shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missile close to the fiercely contested Donetsk town of Avdiivka, a Ukrainian official has said.
The MANPADS, or man-portable air defense system, “hit an aerial target” before the aircraft started to smoke, lose height and then disappear from view, Andriy Demchenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s state border guard, told Ukrainian outlet RBC on Sunday.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Monday that Moscow’s troops had lost one aircraft in the past 24 hours, bringing Kyiv’s tally of Russian aircraft lost in the 20 months of the war to 889.
The grueling war in Ukraine has cost both sides dearly, including in the air. Between February 24, 2022 and the start of October 2023, Russia lost 45 of its Su-25 jets, according to Dutch open-source intelligence outlet, Oryx. However, the true figure could be higher, as this tally only includes visually-verified losses.
At the beginning of the year, Russia had 1,153 combat capable aircraft, with around 180 Su-25s, comprising a range of variants, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Ukraine has lost 517 aircraft since February last year, which cannot be independently verified.
Ukraine has previously said that its forces around the Avdiivka front line have shot down several Russian Su-25 jets within days of one another. The Su-25 close support aircraft are also known by their NATO reporting name, Frogfoot.
The Donetsk town of Avdiivka became an epicenter of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, after Moscow launched its first major effort since Kyiv began its summer counteroffensive in early June.
The Ukrainian-controlled town sticks into Russia’s defensive lines in Donetsk, and Russia has repeatedly tried to capture it. Claiming control of Avdiivka—previously dubbed a “notoriously well-fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold”—would be a significant strategic and symbolic victory for the Kremlin.
Russian forces plugged away with efforts to encircle Avdiivka, but Ukraine’s soldiers “are standing their ground” and “inflicting major losses” on Russian forces, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Monday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry did not mention Avdiivka in its Sunday update, but Russian forces “did not make confirmed advances on October 29,” the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said in its latest update.
However, the Kremlin appears to have “concentrated a sizable portion of their combat power around Avdiivka,” the ISW said on Sunday. Russia now has around 40,000 troops deployed in the vicinity of Avdiivka, Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Tavria group of forces covering Avdiivka, added on Sunday.
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