Ukrainian Forces Down Multiple Russian Jets, Triggering Scale-Back of Air Operations by Moscow

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.25 - 2023 5:19 PM CET


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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported a noticeable decrease in Russian aviation activity in Ukraine, particularly in the use of glide bombs, following Ukraine’s successful downing of three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber jets between December 21 and 22.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat and military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets have indicated that Russian forces have curtailed their air strikes and the use of glide bombs in southern Ukraine, including near occupied Crimea.

This shift comes after the Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk announced the downing of three Su-34 aircraft on the southern front. Subsequently, the Air Force also reported the destruction of another Su-34 and a Su-30 fighter jet.

Prior to these events, the Russian military had escalated its use of glide bombs against Ukrainian positions on the west bank of the Dnipro River. This tactic was partially attributed to Ukraine’s successful suppression of Russian long-range artillery in the region, as per ISW's analysis.

The think-tank's report suggests that the ongoing decrease in Russian glide bomb strikes in Kherson Oblast may provide Ukrainian forces with greater operational freedom in the near rear areas on the west bank. It could also help them establish a more secure position on the east bank for future operations, should the Ukrainian high command decide to pursue this strategy.

As of December 24, Ukrainian troops maintain positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast, but no significant advancements have been reported by either side.

The raids conducted by Ukraine into the eastern bank, occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February, are ongoing.

Russian forces have been utilizing glide bomb strikes to maintain a distance of 50 to 70 kilometers from the frontline. '

The ISW notes that the recent reduction in the use of these glide bombs by Russia likely indicates a growing concern within the Russian military leadership about the effectiveness of Ukrainian air defense capabilities, particularly after the recent loss of fighter jets.

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