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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
24 Feb 2024
James Kilner

Watch: Russia 'accidentally shoots down own spy plane'

Russian forces have accidentally shot down their own £275 million spy plane over occupied Ukraine, pro-Kremlin military bloggers have said.

Vladimir Romanov said that the Beriev A-50 Soviet-built plane crashed near the Sea of Azov after it was hit by a missile fired from Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that Russian forces captured in 2022.

“The enemy has nothing to do with it again. The launches were from the Mariupol area,” he told his 140,000 followers. “After being hit by an air defence missile (not fired by the enemy), the A-50 broke into two parts.”

Mr Romanov also uploaded two videos of the alleged shooting down of the A-50. The first video shows air defence missiles targeting a plane and the second of the alleged crash site with a woman commentator describing a “huge explosion”.

This is the second A-50 spy plane that Russia has lost in the space of just over a month. In January, Ukraine said that it had shot down an A-50 over the Sea of Azov.

Although Ukrainian commanders claimed that their forces had shot down the A-50 on Friday evening, Fighterbomber, another Russian Telegram channel with close ties to Russia’s air force, said that it was too far from the frontline to have been struck by Ukrainian air defences.

“It’s not possible to say at the moment who shot it down,” he said. “But this is 256km (159 miles) from the frontline…”

The Russian ministry of defence has not yet commented on the incident.

Russia’s A-50 planes are the size of a transport plane and have a crew of 15. They carry a massive fixed radar on the top of their fuselage and are considered vital for giving military commanders visibility over the battlefield.

Russia allegedly only started the war with nine A-50s and reportedly isn’t able to manufacture any more.

Russia’s well-connected military bloggers have often criticised Russian military commanders and leaked information that has embarrassed the Kremlin.

This week, a Russian military blogger reportedly shot himself after being forced to delete posts revealing that 17,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the capture of Avdiivka, a statement that had angered the Russian ministry of defence.