Russian military challenges Kiev’s claims about airfield strike

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Ukrainian Air Force commander has claimed that Moscow struck dummies instead of military hardware in this week’s attacks

Kiev’s claims about this week’s Russian strike on a Ukrainian airfield missing its target do not hold water, Telegram channels linked to the military said on Sunday, posting new video footage from the scene. Earlier, Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Nikolay Oleshuk had claimed that Moscow’s forces had only struck deceptive decoys in its latest series of missile strikes.

Footage that appeared on the Russian ‘Iznanka’ Telegram channel purports to show the moments after an Iskander missile strike on the Dolgintsovo airfield, located some ten kilometers east of Krivoy Rog city in Ukraine’s central Dnepropetrovsk Region. The Russian Defense Ministry reported hitting the location on June 3.

The clip shows debris burning at the blast site, with aircraft fuel starting to spill. Footage then demonstrates a powerful blast of the aircraft armament stored nearby. A relatively small fire that can be seen on the video then develops into a major blaze, with thick grey smoke billowing into the air. The location shown in the clip appears to match the one demonstrated in a Defense Ministry video released earlier this week.

At that time, the Russian military stated that a Ukrainian military aircraft, weapons stored nearby, and several service vehicles used by the airfield staff, had all been destroyed by the strike. Earlier, the ministry also reported Iskander strikes on two Ukrainian airfields in Poltava Region. One of them damaged seven Su-27 fighter jets, while the second one destroyed a Mi-24 attack helicopter and other equipment, according to Moscow. The ministry also released similar videos showing those strikes.

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Kiev initially did not comment on the developments. On Saturday, Oleshuk broke the silence by claiming that the Ukrainian Air Force had “successfully conducted passive defense measures,” including at the Dolgintsovo airfield, and thanked those, who provided the nation’s military with “quality models of aircraft and air defense systems.” 

The Ukrainian media then claimed that the targets struck by the Russian missiles in the latest attacks were mere deceptive decoys. The Russian Defense Ministry has not officially commented on those claims. Telegram channels linked to the Russian military denounced those claims as “infinite lies.” 

In early July, the ministry reported that the nation’s military had destroyed nine fighter jets operated by the Ukrainian Air Force in a single day. Seven of them were hit at Ukraine’s Mirgorod airfield in Poltava Region. Two more were shot down by Russian air defenses.

Forbes military observer David Axe then called the Mirgorod strike “one of the costliest single days for the battered Ukrainian air arm” since the start of the hostilities in February 2022.

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