Anti-Putin partisan shot down Russian Su-27 fighter jet over Belgorod

A destroyed Su-35 in Ukraine war.

Russian Su-27 has crashed in Russia’s southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, according to local reports.

Initial reports say one of Russia’s supersonic fighter aircraft came down close to the Russian town of Valuyki on Tuesday. Footage circulating online appeared to show heavy plumes of smoke rising into the sky.

Last year, the anti-Putin militia claimed to have overrun the village in the Russian border region of Belgorod. Fighting has broken out along the Russian border with Ukraine after self-described Russian partisan forces claimed to have overrun a border village within Russia for the first time in the war. Armed with Ukrainian weapons, the partisan group is fighting against Russian forces in the Belgorod region.

In a statement posted to the messaging app Telegram early on Tuesday, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said, “An explosive object was discovered and eliminated by an engineering group” with the Russian Defense Ministry in the village of Soloti. The village is just northwest of Valuyki. “There were no consequences,” Gladkov said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not mention any of its aircraft in statements on Tuesday but said its air defences had destroyed 25 Ukrainian drones over Russian territory overnight, including seven over the Belgorod region.

In a separate statement, Moscow said it intercepted eight Ukrainian rockets and a tactical missile over the Belgorod region at around 7:30 a.m. local time (0:30 a.m. ET). Russia then said that another drone was downed over the Belgorod region at 9:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET).

Ukraine has said Russia lost 36 Su-34 and 26 Su-35 aircraft, but reports of Moscow losing Su-27 jets are rarer. The Su-35 is a modernized version of the Su-27 fighter.

The Cold War-era Flanker, as the Su-27 is known in NATO parlance, was designed to compete with U.S. fourth-generation fighters, according to the U.S. military.

In a later statement on Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry then said Ukrainian “terrorist formations” had “attempted to invade” Russian territory along the border between the two countries, including in the Belgorod region, using tanks and armored vehicles.

Ukrainian media reports and officials said on Tuesday that Russian groups opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, had launched a “joint operation.”

Night-time footage posted by the Freedom of Russia Legion on Tuesday shows fighters travelling on tanks or armoured vehicles. “Crossed the border,” the group said in a brief statement.

Pro-Ukrainian Russian group, the Siberian Battalion, said on Tuesday that they were “bringing freedom and justice to our Russian land,” adding that “fierce fighting is taking place on Russian territory.”

The Russian Volunteer Corps also posted the footage on Tuesday’s social media pages. “The authorities in Russia understand only the language of force,” the group said. “That is why we are re-entering the territory of the Russian Federation!”

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