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June 15, 2024

Ukraine Shoots Down Russian Jets and Drones on Christmas Eve

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Dec 26, 2023

Ukraine claimed another successful day in defending its skies on December 24th, shooting down multiple Russian fighter jets and drones. The downings come as Ukraine heads into its first Christmas since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February.

Multiple Russian Fighter Jets Reportedly Shot Down

Reports from the Ukrainian military state that its air defense forces shot down 5 Russian jets on Christmas Eve:

  • 3 Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers
  • 1 Su-35 fighter
  • 1 Su-30 fighter

The Su-34s were downed in the southern Kherson region, while the other jets were shot down near the northeast city of Kharkiv, according to officials.

This follows Ukraine shooting down 4 other Russian jets earlier in the week. If accurate, it would mark one of the deadliest weeks for Russia’s air force since the war began.

Sources suggest at least 14 Russian fighter jets have been downed by Ukrainian forces in December:

Plane Model Number Shot Down
Su-34 8
Su-30 3
Su-35 2
Su-25 1

Russia has not yet commented on or confirmed the reported losses. But the growing toll on some of its most advanced fighter jets points to the increasing strength of Ukraine’s air defenses.

New Air Defense Systems Making an Impact

Ukraine’s success in taking down Russian aerial assets seems to coincide with the arrival of new Western air defense systems.

The US recently provided Ukraine with Patriot missile batteries, the most advanced surface-to-air system in America’s arsenal. While not yet fully operational, Patriots have already begun arriving in Ukraine over the past two weeks.

Military experts suggest ** Patriots could account for the recent flurry of Russian jets being shot down.** The system is designed to counter advanced threats like fighter aircraft, drones, and ballistic missiles.

Germany has also sent advanced IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine in recent months. These medium-range systems fill a crucial gap, providing protection at altitudes below the reach of missiles like Patriots.

With Patriots guarding higher altitudes and IRIS-Ts covering lower ones, Ukraine may now have the layered air defenses necessary to contest Russia’s control of the skies. The likely results are more downed Russian aircraft and less ability for Russia to strike Ukrainian cities with missiles and drones.

Zelenskyy Praises Air Defense Victories in Christmas Address

In his nightly address on December 25th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a defiant Christmas message highlighting recent military successes.

He stated that shooting down Russian planes on Christmas Eve sends a powerful message on a day celebrating “the birth of Jesus Christ and our faith.” Zelenskyy suggested it shows that evil and darkness will eventually fall to light and truth.

“The night skies of Ukraine are again illuminated by missiles and aircraft – our air defense is working,” Zelenskyy said. “These days, just like in previous years, we celebrate Christmas hoping for peace… We believe that the light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil.”

The president thanked Ukraine’s partners for their military aid and said he was certain of an eventual Ukrainian victory.

Analysts see Zelenskyy’s upbeat tone as an attempt to reassure Ukrainians and project confidence after nearly a year of brutal warfare. His message signals that recent battlefield successes could mark a potential turning point where Ukraine moves from narrowly defending territory to retaking the initiative.

The Path Ahead: Momentum Shifting in Ukraine’s Favor?

In recent months, Ukraine has:

  • Pushed Russian forces mostly out of northern Kharkiv region
  • Liberated the southern city of Kherson
  • Inflicted devastating losses on Russia’s military manpower
  • Crippled Russia’s ability to strike civilian infrastructure

With reclaimed territory and the aerial playing field now more level, many experts foresee a shift in momentum toward Ukraine in the next phase of the war.

However, Russia likely still has significant reserves it can leverage for offenses in 2023. Much depends on the West’s willingness to continue supplying aid and weapons as the conflict drags on.

Most analysts caution that talks of a political settlement remain premature. Zelenskyy continues demanding full restoration of Ukraine’s 1991 borders, including Crimea, and no territorial concessions to Russia. Achieving military conditions for this maximalist stance could take many more months of bloody, grinding combat.

Still, Ukraine enters 2023 in a vastly better position than most expected when Russia invaded in February. Now with its NATO-standard air defenses strengthening weekly, Ukraine appears newly capable to turn back the heavyweight Russian military. The coming year may test whether David can ultimately defeat Goliath.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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