Russia Accidentally Shoots Down Their Own $36M Su-34 Bomber, Ukraine Claims

A $36 million Russian Su-34 bomber was reportedly shot down by Russia's own forces over Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian media outlets claimed on Monday.

The jet was reportedly downed near Alchevsk, a city in the Luhansk region—one of the areas where the war is currently focused. Alchevsk is currently under the occupation of Moscow-backed separatist forces.

Videos and images shared by the Strategic Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the Telegram messaging app on Monday appear to show the charred remains of a Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber.

 Russian Su-34 bomber
Above, a Russian Su-34 bomber jet lands at the Kubinka airfield near Moscow on March 28, 2009. A $36 million Russian Su-34 bomber was reportedly shot down by Russia’s own forces over Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images

In the video, the cameraman states that a Ukrainian plane was shot down, but an inscription on the military plane states that it is a jet belonging to Russia's Air Force, local news outlets said.

Ukrainian media outlets, including TSN, reported that a message had circulated on Telegram that the Su-34 jet had been accidentally shot down by Russia's own air defense.

A Telegram user called Ruslan reportedly wrote: "The jet is ours unfortunately. Sometimes it happens. I heard the info from a friend, I thought bulls**t, but it was confirmed."

"Russian invaders from the air defense shot down their own plane, which was flying in the sky over Alchevsk," reported Ukrainian news outlet dialog.ua, noting that the incident could have taken place on Sunday when Ukraine's armed forces launched a targeted attack on military depots in the occupied city.

According to the Ukrainian news outlet Glavred, a video of the downed Su-34 aircraft was posted on local Telegram channels, and Russians at first commented believing that a Ukrainian plane had been shot down. The video was then reportedly deleted after it became clear that it was a Russian bomber.

Russian authorities have not commented on the reports. Newsweek has been unable to independently verify the claims and has reached out to Russia's foreign ministry for comment.

Russia's state-run media has said the Su-34 costs approximately $36 million per unit. The fighter jets, and Russia's air force, have largely underperformed throughout the war which President Vladimir Putin launched on February 24, according to Britain's defense ministry.

In a separate incident in the Ukrainian city of Alchevsk last month, a video circulating on social media appeared to show the moment a Russian air defense system malfunctioned and the missile appeared to turn back towards the point where it was fired from.

The missile appeared to change trajectory after launch and struck near the system itself, local media outlets reported on June 24. The cause of the bizarre malfunction was not clear.

Update 7/19/22 4:45 a.m. ET: This article was updated with a picture change.