Ukraine says it shot down Russian strategic bomber; Moscow’s missiles kill 8 Ukrainians

Two soldiers in camouflage walk by a charred, gutted building and car where three people in civilian clothes huddle and talk
Russian attacks destroyed buildings in Dnipro, Ukraine. Two children were among eight Ukrainians killed.
(Andriy Andriyenko / Associated Press)

Ukraine’s air force said Friday that it had shot down a Russian strategic bomber, but Moscow officials said the plane crashed in a sparsely populated area due to a malfunction after a combat mission.

Neither claim could be independently verified. Previous Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian warplanes during their more than two-year war have met with silence or denials from Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian missiles struck cities in the central Dnipro region of Ukraine, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, and injuring 28, local officials said.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated Kyiv officials’ almost daily appeals for more Western air defense systems, drawing a parallel with how Israel blunted a recent Iranian attack.

Missile and drone attacks can be thwarted, he wrote on social platform X: “This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba added: “Children must not be killed in airstrikes in modern Europe.”

Russia’s air force is vastly more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems provided by Kyiv’s Western partners are a major threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly push forward along the roughly 620-mile front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a major Russian offensive in the summer.

Ukraine said its air force and military intelligence had cooperated to bring down the Tu-22M3 bomber with antiaircraft missiles. Russia commonly uses the bomber to fire Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from inside its own airspace. The plane can also carry nuclear warheads.

The Russian defense ministry said the warplane had crashed “in a deserted area” in its southern region of Stavropol, which is over 150 miles from the Ukrainian border.


Three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, and the search for a fourth was taking place, according to the ministry. But Stavropol Gov. Vladimir Vladimirov said one of the rescued pilots had since died.

On Christmas Eve, Ukraine claimed to have shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force said it had shot down a Russian early-warning-and-control plane as well as a key command-center aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground. The next month, Ukraine said it had knocked out another early-warning-and-control plane.

Also in January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane that was carrying Ukrainian POWs who were headed for a prisoner swap.

Russian forces conducted a combined aerial attack overnight with the use of 22 missiles of various types and 14 Shahed drones, the Ukrainian air force said Friday. All of the drones and 15 of the missiles were intercepted, it said.

The attack hit urban areas as well as train infrastructure in the Dnipro region, according to the operator of Ukraine’s national railways. Among those killed in the strikes was railway employee Oksana Storozhenko, the mother of two teenage sons, the agency said.

Novikov writes for the Associated Press.