Russia Says Destroyed 5 Ukrainian Jets in Strike on Air Base

Russia claimed Tuesday to have destroyed five Ukrainian military jets in a strike on an air base that comes as Kyiv prepares for the arrival of long-awaited F-16 fighters.

Russia’s defense ministry said it fired Iskander-M missiles at an air base near the central Ukrainian city of Myrgorod, around 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Russian border.

“As a result of the Russian army strike, five operational Su-27 multirole fighters were destroyed, and two that were under repair were damaged,” it said in a statement on Telegram.

The ministry also published footage of what it said was the strike and its aftermath, showing grey smoke billowing at the airfield, where some parked planes were visible, and charred black earth.

AFP could not immediately verify the footage or the claims.

Russian and Ukrainian military bloggers previously reported the strike on Monday.

Ukraine’s air force declined to comment.

Ukrainian military correspondents said Kyiv had suffered equipment losses in the hit, with some angry at commanders for parking the planes in the open without sufficient protection.

The use of fighter jets has been relatively limited throughout the conflict, now in its third year — though Kyiv hopes the arrival of Western F-16 fighters will enable it to better protect itself from Russian bombardment.

Ukraine has been calling for the US-made jets since the start of the conflict.

Several NATO countries have pledged to supply them and have been training Ukrainian pilots and crews for months.

The first deliveries, including from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark are expected to arrive in the country imminently.

Russia has promised to target and destroy them.

Ukraine has not said where it will base the F-16s.

Pro-offensive Russian military bloggers have pointed to increased Russian hits against Ukrainian airbases this year ahead of the expected deliveries.

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