Ukraine says it shot down 2 Russian command and control aircraft in a significant blow to Moscow

A Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control plain flies over Red Square in 2019 during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian air force shot down a Russian early warning and control plane that can spot targets up to 650 kilometers (400 miles) away and a key command center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground in a significant blow for the Kremlin’s forces, Ukraine’s military chief said Monday.

The planes are fundamental tools in helping orchestrate Russian battlefield movements in Ukraine. Shooting them down, if confirmed, would be a landmark feat for Ukraine in the almost two-year war, as fighting along the front line is largely bogged down in trench and artillery warfare.


Russia has largely ensured its air dominance during the war, as Ukraine fights with its fleet of Soviet-era warplanes against Moscow’s more modern aircraft.

Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, didn’t say how the two aircraft — a Beriev A-50 and an Il-22 — were brought down, but Ukraine has received sophisticated air defense systems from its Western allies.

Zaluzhnyi also did not say where the interceptions occurred, though he attached a video to his social media post with an airplane tracker showing two targets disappearing above the Azov Sea, which lies between Ukraine and Russia, north of the Crimea Peninsula and the Black Sea.

There was no immediate official comment from Moscow. Russian war bloggers said both planes had come under friendly fire, though they presented no evidence of that. They claimed the Il-22 was damaged but made a successful landing.

The A-50, which is topped with a large radar, typically carries a crew of 15. The Russian air force reportedly has been operating a fleet of nine such aircraft.

A February 2023 drone attack at an airfield in Belarus damaged a parked A-50, but Russian and Belarusian officials described the damage as minor.

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