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Eight Killed In Russian Strikes As Ukraine Downs Bomber

Moscow said a military plane had crashed in Russian territory while returning to base from a combat mission after suffering a technical malfunction.


This hand out photograph released on April 19, 2024 by the Governor of Russia’s Stavropol Krai, Vladimir Vladimirov, shows the remains of a Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber crashed in an agricultural field outside Stavropol.(Photo by Governor of Stavropol Krai / AFP)

 

Russian strikes against Ukraine on Friday killed at least eight people, including two children, as Kyiv said it shot down a Russian strategic bomber for the first time.

Moscow said a military plane had crashed in Russian territory while returning to base from a combat mission after suffering a technical malfunction.

The downing of a Russian bomber used to fire cruise missiles would be a highly symbolic win for Ukraine, which has been pounded by hundreds of Russian aerial strikes since Moscow invaded more than two years ago.

The latest overnight Russian strikes on the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region left more death and destruction, officials said.

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“A horrific Russian air strike on the Dnipropetrovsk region this morning. Two children are among those killed. A 14-year-old girl and a 8-year-old boy,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The head of the region Sergiy Lysak said medics had been able to save a six-year-old boy previously reported killed, revising down an earlier toll of nine dead. Twelve people were reported injured.

 Life-saving air defence

The strikes — which hit the region’s Synelnykivsky area and the regional capital of Dnipro — triggered fresh outrage in Kyiv.

“Children must not be killed in air strikes in modern Europe. We must protect them with a reliable air shield,” Kuleba said.

Ukraine’s railway operator said train facilities were hit in the attack and that seven employees were among those wounded. A female member of staff was killed, they added.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in response to the strike, repeated calls for Ukraine’s Western allies to more supply air defence systems.

“Every country that provides air defence systems to Ukraine, every leader who helps persuade our partners that air defence systems should not be stored in warehouses but deployed in real cities and communities facing terror, and everyone who supports our defence is a life saver,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky visited troops and inspected fortifications in the eastern Donetsk region, he announced. Russian forces have taken advantage of Ukraine’s manpower and ammunition shortages and steadily gained ground in the region.

In Washington, the US House of Representatives is gearing up for a crucial weekend vote on a long-stalled $61 billion package of military aid that could deliver much-needed weapons to Ukrainian soldiers struggling on the front lines.

Ukraine said it had downed a Russian long-range strategic bomber during a combat mission for the first time.

The Tu-22M3 was returning to its base in Russia after firing missiles at Ukraine earlier in the night, the main intelligence directorate of Ukraine’s defence ministry said.

 Shot down

Russian officials said the plane crashed over the southern Stavropol region. They said the pilots ejected but that at least one member of the crew had died.

“According to preliminary data, the cause of the accident was a technical malfunction,” state news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying.

Stavropol governor Vladimir Vladimirov said two crew members had been taken to a local medical centre.

“The search for the fourth pilot is continuing,” he added, posting photos of the burnt-out and mangled plane fuselage in a field.

The plane crashed in the region’s Krasnogvardeysky district, the governor said — around 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the eastern edge of the annexed Crimean peninsula.

The Ukraine intelligence directorate said the plane “was shot down at a distance of about 300 kilometres from Ukraine. As a result of the hit, the bomber was able to fly to the Stavropol area, where it crashed.”

Ukraine’s air force said Russia had launched 22 missiles and 14 Iranian-designed attack drones overnight — including from the downed strategic bomber.

It said all the unmanned aerial vehicles were downed as well as 15 missiles.

Russian strikes have pummelled towns and cities across Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion more than two years ago. A missile attack on the northern city of Chernigiv left 18 dead earlier this week.

AFP