Russia Loses 24 of Its Best Fighter Jets, Turns to Obsolete Planes: Ukraine

Russia is reportedly turning to "outdated" fighter jets after it lost about two dozen Su-35 aircraft in its ongoing assault on Ukraine, according to a social media post on Thursday.

In a Facebook post, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Russia was going to start using "old" Su-24M bombers after Moscow's forces lost "two squadrons" in the war.

"The SU-35 aircrafts also showed a low level of durability. During the full-scale aggression, the occupants lost two squadrons of such aircraft—it's about 24 units," Ukrainian Brigadier General Alexei Gromov said, the post reported.

Moscow's forces, at the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, drawing swift and widespread international condemnation. Although Putin and his advisers reportedly believed they could quickly take control and topple the government in Kyiv, the initial assault was repelled by the Ukrainian army and ordinary citizens resisting the aggression.

SU-35
Ukraine said Thursday that 24 Su-35 fighters have been destroyed amid Russia's invasion. Above, Russian Su-35 fighter jets and Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft at an air show during the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon on July 20, 2021, in Zhukovskiy, outside of Moscow, Russia. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov reportedly said that Russia "plans to use outdated Su-24M bombers." Hromov also said Thursday that Moscow's accuracy in recent strikes has been low, as its pilots reportedly want to avoid being shot down.

"The enemy's planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defenses, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low," the general said, Reuters reported.

Newsweek has not verified Ukraine's statements about the Russian planes.

Newsweek reached out to Russia's foreign ministry for comment.

Moscow continues to say that its "military action" in Ukraine is going according to plan, despite a lack of substantial gains and a major walk-back from its early ambitions of taking control of the country. Putin's forces are now focusing their efforts far more narrowly on the southeastern Donbas region in recent months, after failing to make significant forward progress in the first several weeks of the war.

Putin and other Kremlin leaders said that their invasion is necessary to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish and was elected with nearly three-quarters of the vote in 2019. At that time, Ukraine's prime minister was also Jewish. Members of Zelensky's family died in the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's armed forces said that nine Russian military aircraft had been destroyed at a Crimea base. Crimea was recognized as part of Ukraine under international law and treaties, but Moscow annexed the region in 2015 as it also backed separatist rebels in eastern regions of Ukraine. Russia denied that the aircraft had been destroyed, and Ukraine stopped short of claiming responsibility for their destruction.

Retired U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, who previously served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, described the destruction of the nine aircraft as a "big move" for Ukraine in comments to MSNBC on Wednesday. Stavridis also said that Ukraine is "preparing for offensive operations in the south."

In mid-July, Ukraine's military announced that it had shot down what was "presumably" an Su-35 fighter jet near the city of ​​Nova Kakhovka. Video of the plane being shot down was shared widely on social media. The video showed the jet crashing into a field and exploding on impact, causing thick plumes of black smoke to rise into the air.

Kyiv's forces have been greatly aided in their defensive efforts by High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) sent by the U.S. as part of billions of dollars in military aid. U.S. and NATO allies have rallied behind Ukraine, providing substantial humanitarian support as well as weapons. The HIMARS have been a "game-changer" for Ukraine, according to some military analysts.