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Russian bomber crashes in southwest Russia after airstrikes in Ukraine

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The crash site, with a shot of the falling plane

A Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber crashed near Stavropol in southwest Russia after carrying out airstrikes in neighboring Ukraine, officials and witnesses say. At least one crew member was killed, another is missing.

The plane, a supersonic long-range bomber, was carrying four people and returning from a combat mission when it crashed into a field in Krasnogvardeisky District, about 207 kilometers (129 miles) from Krasnodar and to the east of Crimea.

“The pilots ejected. Three crew members were evacuated by the search and rescue team,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “Currently, the search for one pilot is still underway.”

Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov said one of the rescued crew members later succumbed to his injuries.

Ukraine’s military claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane, while Russia’s Defense Ministry attributed the crash to a “technical malfunction.” Videos taken by local residents showed the jet was on fire before it crashed into the field.

The plane had earlier taken part in airstrikes against Ukraine. In Synelnikovo, at least 6 people were killed when residential buildings were hit by Russian missiles, according to local officials. At least 2 others were killed in Dnipro.

“For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force … destroyed the long-range strategic bomber Tu-22M3 – the carrier of the Kh-22 cruise missiles, with which Russian terrorists attack peaceful Ukrainian cities,” Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleschuk said in a statement. “I thank everyone who ensured this result today. Evil will be punished!”

While potentially the first shootdown, it also marks Russia’s second loss of a Tu-22M since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. One aircraft was reportedly destroyed in a Ukrainian airstrike against an airbase in Novgorod Oblast in August 2023.

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