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Russia appears to have shot down one of its most advanced fighter jets over the frontline in Ukraine in what would be a humiliating blow for Moscow.
Footage shared widely on social media appears to show a Russian missile streaking across the night sky before slamming into a plane which explodes and crashes to the ground.
The unverified incident is said to have occurred near Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Oblast near an area of heavy fighting in southern Ukraine.
Unconfirmed reports from accounts on social media suggest the plane was a Russian Su-35 which was hit by a missile from one of Moscow’s S-300 air defence systems. Russian authorities have not commented on the incident.
The multipurpose fighter jet is one of Russia’s most technologically advanced planes – Russia claims it is a fourth-generation fighter with fifth-generation technology.
This wouldn’t be the first time Russian antiaircraft weapons have downed one of their own planes.
In fact, according to reporting by Newsweek, one in five Russian aircraft losses since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine were self-inflicted.
Some of these losses are crashes while some have been shot down in friendly fire incidents. Western analysts say short training times and a lack of experienced pilots are likely to blame.
The purported self-inflicted loss reportedly took place over Tokmak, a short distance from heavy fighting at the frontline near Robotyne.
Ukraine’s forces captured Robotyne earlier this month and are attempting to expand the breach there while attacking to the east towards Verbove.
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Tokmak is used as a hub for Russian forces on this area of the front and Kyiv has set the city firmly in its sites.
The city lies on the road to Melitopol and, eventually, the Sea of Azov. Reaching the sea would effectively cut Russian forces in Ukraine in half.
The Institute for the Study of War – A US-based defence think tank covering Ukraine – believes elements of Russia’s 70th and 71st Motorized Rifle Regiments have been deployed to Tokmak and the adjacent frontline.
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