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Frontline report: Russian-claimed first Ukrainian F-16 strikes rattle Russian aviation

In recent days, Russia lost five bombers in southern Ukraine as Russians claim that Ukraine finally received F-16 jets.
US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons flying in formation. Photo: Tom Reynolds/US Air Force

Day 669

Today, the biggest news comes from the south of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces had conducted a successful aerial ambush on the Russian fighter-bombers. In the last few days, Russia lost five jets in southern Ukraine. On Christmas Eve, Ukrainian forces downed two Russian Su-34 and Su-30. Earlier, on 22 December, Ukrainian forces claimed three Su-34s downed on the southern front. All of this led to heightened tension on the frontlines.

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Ukrainian forces claimed three Su-34s downed on the southern front. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

Despite confirmation from Russian military bloggers, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have shot down 4 Ukrainian jets, deviating from the acknowledged loss of Russian 3.

Ukrainian fighters in the village of Krynky, on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast, noted no bombs dropped on their positions since intercepting Russian jets. The absence of new strike videos from Russian sources adds weight to the confirmation of the ambush.

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The village of Krynky, on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

Furthermore, notable Russian sources claim that Ukrainians have received a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, strategically deploying them across airfields in western Ukraine. This aligns with the Institute for the Study of War’s observation, citing a recent Estonian Ministry of Defense strategy document indicating plans for the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium to send F-16s to Ukraine before year-end. This adds fuel to speculations surrounding the recent ambush and the unusual quietness in Russian aviation.

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According to one of Russia’s most famous milbloggers, Rybar, a squadron of F-16s is already in Ukraine. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

The absence of Russian airstrikes offered crucial relief for the Ukrainian position on the eastern Dnipro River bank, allowing them to intensify offensives. This respite was timely, given the recent powerful Russian attacks, especially in the village of Krynky central area.

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Powerful Russian attacks, especially in the village of Krynky. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

While Ukrainians repelled supporting flank assaults, the Russian center persisted, leading to ongoing clashes. Ukrainians successfully isolated the Russian group, compelling them to seek refuge in houses. Seizing the opportunity, Ukrainian M777 artillery crews leveled the occupied buildings upon entry. A Russian rescue unit, dispatched too late, was swiftly neutralized by Ukrainians. The fight ended around the time the Russian jets were shot down, enabling Ukrainians to regain control of the village’s central part.

Ukrainian drone operators spotted Russians attempting nighttime forest reconnaissance. With an upgraded electronic warfare system, Ukrainians intercepted 35 Russian drones on the last day. Depletion of drones led some Russian units to conduct foot reconnaissance, but the area was equipped with surveillance by mine-dropping drones, foiling their efforts.

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A Russian soldier is conducting foot reconnaissance. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

The primary mission for Ukrainian drone operators is to turn off Russian equipment effectively. The commander of Madiar’s Birds Drone Detachment shared a video demonstrating the destruction of approximately 15 pieces of equipment over the past two days. One-third were armored fighting vehicles, another third were trucks, and the rest were various cars.

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Ukrainian drones destructed up to 15 pieces of Russian equipment. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

The tactic involves identifying key roads and intersections frequently used by Russians. Subsequently, Ukrainians strategically mine these areas with drones during the night, allowing them to immobilize vehicles, which are then dealt with in the morning. This approach proves highly effective as Russians struggle to organize evacuations in a limited timeframe.

Other drone detachments within the Ukrainian Marine Brigades are highly engaged in various operations. Marines showcased the destruction of Russian tanks attempting to establish firing positions and undermine Ukrainian defenses. They also intercepted reinforcements en route to the northeastern side of Krynky village and executed numerous grenade drops on Russian infantry.

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Russian reinforcements en route to the northeastern side of Krynky village. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

In a recent video, marines from the 35th Brigade detected a house with a significant number of Russian troops. They communicated the coordinates to HIMARS crews, resulting in the immediate destruction of the entire building.

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The building with Russian troops, destroyed by the HIMARS crews. Photo: Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.

Simultaneously, Ukrainian HIMARS crews shared a festive video in a Christmas style.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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