Russia reportedly lost at least 7 warplanes in Crimean airbase attack

The Ukraine army had a few satellite images to share
Christopher McFadden
  • A Russian airbase in Crimea was recently attacked
  • Russia initially downplayed the attack
  • It has now been revealed that at least 7 aircraft were destroyed, and significant damage to the base also inflicted

Recently released satellite photographs show as many as 7 warplanes were destroyed at a Russian airfield in Crimea on Tuesday. While the precise details of the operation remain unknown, Ukraine's air force shared a triumphant picture of the downed aircraft on July 11th, 2022, on its Twitter account.

Russia has insisted that the damage was accidental and that nothing substantial was lost, but photography from several sources refutes this. At least three structures at the Saki naval airbase in Crimea, the peninsula Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, looked to have been damaged, in addition to the aircraft.

The Su-30 and Su-24 jets, which Russia's air force has deployed for many years, appear to be among the lost. The Su-24 is designed for accurate ground attacks, but the Su-30 is a fighter designed to take on other aircraft.

Commenting on the images, Elliot Higgins, founder of open-source intelligence group Bellingcat, noted the "very large craters, many destroyed aircraft, and destroyed buildings."

“From what I can tell, a lot of planes and ammo got blown up in one area, causing a fire that spread throughout the base, although the only damage from that fire which is visible is lots of burnt grass,” he noted.

“I can't think of a time Russia has lost this many air assets in one day in recent memory, and they have to be deeply concerned about Ukraine's ability to do similar strikes elsewhere,” he added.

If true, Russia lost quite a few of its most advanced aerial hardware

As for specific losses, sources like Oliver Alexander, an open-source analyst, tweeted the following estimates:

  • 3 Su-30s were lost
  • 4 Su-24s also appeared to have been destroyed
  • Six further planes, Su-30s and Su-24s, may have also been destroyed

A lower number of at least nine planes destroyed was provided by Oryx, an organization that tracks Russian military losses.

The burned remains of one Su-24 are visible in on-the-ground video from the incident, which The New York Times has confirmed:

Ukraine has not formally claimed it as an attack, with its defense ministry saying on Tuesday it couldn't “determine the cause of the explosion,” The Times reported.

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The Washington Post, however, was informed by an unnamed official that Ukrainian special forces were to blame.

An unidentified official responded when asked by Politico if the explosions might be viewed as a component of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in Crimea: “You can say this is it.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, stated on Wednesday that he hoped to eventually recapture Crimea, the first area of Ukrainian territory taken by Russia, eight years before the large-scale invasion in 2022.

According to the BBC, Zelenskyy declared: “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up,” without mentioning the Saki airbase.

Also, the BBC stated that “we will not forget that the Russian war against Ukraine began with the occupation of Crimea.”

“This Russian war ... began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — with its liberation,” he added.

Russia still claims it was an accident

Russia, meanwhile, has not blamed Ukraine for the explosions, blaming simply an “explosion” in which “several aviation munitions detonated.”

According to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, DC, this is most likely because Russia is unwilling to acknowledge that its defenses were so seriously flawed that Ukraine was able to carry out such an offensive.

"The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense systems," the institute explained.

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