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UK intel: Russia’s air superiority on southern front weakened as Ukraine downs three Su-34 bombers

Although Russia has resumed tactical air strikes around the bridgehead in recent days, the frequency and intensity of these operations remain lower than before the shootdowns.
Russian su-34
Russia’s Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft. Illustrative image: Wikipedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin

The recent successful targeting of Russian combat aircraft by Ukrainian forces has led to a notable shift in the aerial dynamics of the southern front, UK intelligence said in its daily report.

According to British intelligence, the shooting down of three Russian Su-34 combat jets over southern Ukraine on 22 December 2023 has significantly weakened Russia’s air superiority in the region.

Russian tactical air power had been a dominant force, particularly in attacking the Ukrainian bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. The aftermath of these losses saw the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) almost entirely cease crewed flight operations in the south through the end of December 2023. This development indicates a substantial reduction in Russian air capabilities and operational flexibility in the region.

The decreased air support from Russian forces is believed to have directly contributed to the failure of the Russian Ground Forces’ 18th Combined Arms Army in their attempt to clear the bridgehead. Although Russia has resumed tactical air strikes around the bridgehead in recent days, the frequency and intensity of these operations remain lower than before the shootdowns, underscoring a weakened state of Russian air power.

“This once again demonstrates that Russia’s inability to establish air superiority in the early stages of the Russia-Ukraine war continues to undermine their daily operations,” UK intel said.

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