Ukraine reportedly deploys warplane to strike target in Russia for the first time — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Ukraine reportedly deploys warplane to strike target in Russia for the first time

F-16 Falcon fighter jets fly at a ceremony to mark the opening of a training centre for Ukrainian Air Force pilots in Borcea, Romania, 13 November 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

F-16 Falcon fighter jets fly at a ceremony to mark the opening of a training centre for Ukrainian Air Force pilots in Borcea, Romania, 13 November 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

Ukraine used a warplane to strike a target within Russia on Sunday in a first since the start of Russia’s invasion, a source close to the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) told British broadcaster Sky News.

The source said that a warplane had struck a “Russian command node” in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine and has come under frequent aerial attack by Ukraine in recent months.

"Whilst damage assessment is still occurring, it is confirmed as a direct hit. This is the first UAF air-delivered munition delivered against a target within Russia", Sky News cited the source as saying.

It was not immediately clear what kind of weapon was used in the strike and whether it had been provided by a Western country, Sky News said.

The Belgorod-based Pepel Telegram channel had earlier on Sunday published a video showing what it said was an ammunition depot on fire in the village of Rakitnoye following an apparent aerial attack at around 2pm local time.

Belgorod region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov later confirmed a strike on a “non-residential building” in Rakitnoye.

Russia’s Defence Ministry reported that it had downed three Ukrainian drones over the Belgorod region in quick succession around 2 pm on Sunday, with Gladkov later saying that three soldiers had been injured as a result of a drone attack.

While Ukrainian drone attacks on targets within Russia are common, the use of a warplane may be seen as a “new escalation” by Moscow, Sky News said.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would provide Ukraine with Mirage 2000 fighter jets to defend itself from Russia amid a growing consensus among NATO members that Ukraine should be free to use Western-supplied weapons to strike targets within Russia.

Vladimir Putin told journalists on Wednesday that Russia would “reserve the right to act the same way” if Ukraine used Western-provided weapons to attack targets on Russian territory.

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