A Russian Su-34 fighter jet crashed in the Belgorod region

Russia said one of its Su-34 fighter jets crashed in Belgorod near the Ukrainian border on Monday due to engine failure after local authorities reported a blast that injured two people and left a huge crater in the city.

A Russian Su-34 fighter jet crashed in the Belgorod region during a mission to drop glide bombs on Ukrainian territory. The cause of the crash is disputed, with Russian sources citing engine failure and Ukrainian sources suggesting the aircraft was shot down.

The crew did not have time to eject, leading to their loss and sparking discussions on the reliability of Russian military equipment and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian jets have regularly flown sorties over Belgorod since the launch of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.

On Monday evening, local officials reported a massive explosion in Belgorod, saying the blast had left a crater in the city center and injured two women.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the region of Belgorod, said the blast had sent a shock wave that damaged four apartments and four cars and downed power line poles.

“An explosion took place,” Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that investigators and representatives of the emergencies ministry were at the scene.

He said that as a result of the explosion, a “huge” crater some 20 meters wide (65 feet) had appeared in the city center.

Gladkov and Belgorod’s mayor, Valentin Demidov, posted pictures of damage on social media.

One picture showed grim-looking locals huddling outside an apartment building, with one woman holding a small dog and a fire engine nearby.

Other images showed apartment interiors wrecked by the blast.

Local authorities did not say what caused the blast, but the Russian defense ministry released a statement saying a fighter aircraft had lost ammunition over Belgorod.

“During the flight of the Su-34 aircraft of the aerospace forces over the city of Belgorod, an abnormal descent of aviation ammunition has occurred,” the ministry said.

The statement carried by Russian news agencies added that the incident had taken place at 22:15 local time.

Citing preliminary information, Gladkov said one woman was hospitalized with a head injury, while another woman was treated at the scene.

Demidov said residents of the damaged buildings would be temporarily moved to hotels.

The region of Belgorod has been repeatedly shelled since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

In January, Gladkov told Putin that 25 people had been killed and more than 90 injured in the region since the start of the offensive.

In October 2022, an Su-34 jet crashed into a residential building in the southern city of Yeysk, also near the border with Ukraine, killing 16 people, including several children.

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