Russia Says It Destroys 5 Ukrainian SU-27 Jet Fighters as Moscow Aims at F-16 Arrivals

Russia Says It Destroys 5 Ukrainian SU-27 Jet Fighters as Moscow Aims at F-16 Arrivals
Ukrainian SU-27 jets convoy IL-76 military transport aircraft loaded with paratroopers after they left Ozerne air base, in Zhytomyr region in northern Ukraine, on Dec. 6, 2018. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

MOSCOW—Russia claimed on Tuesday it had destroyed five Ukrainian SU-27 fighter jets with Iskander-M missiles and damaged two more at the Myrhorod airfield in Ukraine’s central Poltava region.

Ukraine claimed there had been a strike at the airfield but that Russia was exaggerating the damage caused. Ukraine did not detail exactly what had been damaged.

Russia’s defence ministry published footage of the attack which showed smoke and flames rising from an airfield. It did not say when it took place.

“As a result of the Russian strike, five active SU-27 multi-purpose fighters were destroyed and two were damaged,” the ministry said.

Russia is targeting Ukrainian airfields just as Kyiv prepares to receive the first U.S.–designed F-16s, which Moscow has vowed to destroy.

A Ukrainian air force official, Yuriy Ihnat, said there had been a strike on Myrhorod.

“There was an attack. There are some losses, but not the ones the enemy claims, after all, they have always done this since the beginning of the invasion,” Mr. Ihnat wrote in a statement on Facebook late on Monday.

Ukrainian military bloggers reported that a Russian reconnaissance drone had been able to fly above the airfield to help conduct the strike.

“There is not enough means to destroy (reconnaissance) drones,” Mr. Ihnat told Reuters on Tuesday when asked about such drones, which he said present a “very serious threat.”

“It flies and reports everything in real-time, then Iskander arrives in a couple of minutes. It is obvious.”