Russian air force stops flying over Kherson after losing three Su-34 aircraft

Ukrainian forces shot down Su-34 using RBS-70 MANPAD.

Russian forces have failed to dislodge a Ukrainian bridgehead across the Dnipro River after three of its fighter jets were shot down in one day.

The British Ministry of Defense said that after losing three Su-34 fighter jets on Dec 22, the Russian air force cancelled attacks on the bridgehead, 20 miles upstream from Kherson city.

“The lack of air support contributed to the failure of an attempt by Russian Ground Forces 18th Combined Arms Army to clear the bridgehead,” it said.

Ukrainian marines have been clinging on to a patch of territory on the Russia-controlled left bank of the Dnipro River that they captured in November.

Injured marines told The New York Times last month that the former fishing village of Krynky was now a destroyed hellscape under constant Russian bombardment, but Ukrainian military commanders have said that it is a strategically important foothold.

Russia’s far bigger air force has been cited as a reason for the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in 2023 but the British Ministry of Defence said that Russia had failed to secure air superiority.

“Russia’s inability to establish air superiority in the early stages of the Russia-Ukraine war continues to undermine daily operations,” it said.

Ukraine has been pleading with Nato to send F-16 fighter jets so that it can fight for control of the skies but, although its pilots are training to fly F-16s in Europe, these now appear to be delayed.

The Berlingske newspaper quoted the Danish ministry of defence as saying that the six F-16s that it was due to give to Ukraine this month would now be delayed by up to six months.

It did not give a reason for the delay although it has said that Ukraine needed to match certain conditions for the F-16s to be handed over, including having the necessary logistics and infrastructure in place.

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