Ukraine claims to have shot down Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber

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KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine said on Friday it had shot down a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bomber, a first in the conflict that has pitted it against Russia for more than two years.

The Tupolev Tu-22M3 is a bomber capable of firing long-range missiles used to attack Ukrainian cities.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the strategic bomber crashed in the Stavropol region of southern Russia, hundreds of kilometers from Ukrainian-controlled territory, while returning to base after carrying out a combat mission.

He added that the accident appeared to have been caused by a technical malfunction.

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Following the Russian statement, Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mikola Oleshchuk claimed that Kyiv had “destroyed” the warplane.

“For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force, in cooperation with the defense intelligence of Ukraine, destroyed a missile-carrying Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber Kh-22 cruise ships used by Russian terrorists to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities,” Mikola Oleshchuk said.

According to the Ukrainian military intelligence agency, the Tu-22M3 bomber had just participated in an attack against Ukraine.

Russia fired missiles at the central Dnipropetrovsk region earlier on Friday, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 25, according to local authorities.

Unconfirmed footage posted on social media shows a warplane with its tail on fire spiraling toward the ground.

The Russian regional governor said the pilots ejected, but one of them died. A rescue operation is underway, he added.

(Reporting by Anastasiia Malenko and Yuliia Dysa; written by Tom Balmforth; Blandine Hénault for the French version, edited by Tangi Salaün)


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