Ukraine Claims Responsibility for 3 Russian Warplanes

( – Ukraine announced it shot down three Russian jets on Thursday, February 29. Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi made the claim on Telegram. He said that they had “successful combat operations” overnight that resulted in the destruction of three Russian warplanes. He identified two of the destroyed jets as SU-34 fighter-bombers.

Reuters wasn’t able to verify his claims and the Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t commented on the matter. Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in an intense military conflict since Russia invaded in February 2022. Putin has suggested the matter is internal state security with a problem beginning during a coup in 2014 that he said Western powers sponsored.

Russia had a major win in the conflict after taking Avdiivka, a city in eastern Ukraine, earlier in February. Russia also has control of the southeastern city of Mariupol, which it took in May 2022.

Ukrainian representatives said these three jets bring the total of Russian planes destroyed in recent days to six. Ukraine has received advanced air defense technology from western allies, including the U.S. The defense systems have prevented Russia from pushing too far into the western parts of the country.

Ukraine has also accused Russia of bombing civilian targets in the Kherson region and near Ukraine’s front line. Russia has denied targeting civilians, while acknowledging that collateral damage can occur during a hot war.

U.S. establishment representatives are desperate to continue to fund the war. The latest funding bill would cost American taxpayers $95 billion; $60 billion would go to aid the Ukrainian war effort. Without the funds, the Ukrainians may be forced to concede the war. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that NATO could be drawn into the conflict as a consequence.

Austin told the House Armed Services Committee that Putin will not stop with success in Ukraine, despite Putin’s claims he has no further ambitions or a desire to engage in a direct conflict with NATO countries. Austin indicated that Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are all particularly vulnerable. All three are NATO countries, however, meaning any attack on them would trigger NATO’s defense pact. Ukraine is not a NATO country.

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