Russia has been risking its pilots in symbolic strikes on Ukraine's Snake Island, UK intel said.
Kyiv is believed to have already shot down one of Moscow's bomber jets near the area.
The UK's Ministry of Defense said Snake Island "has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance."
Russia has been putting its fighter pilots in jeopardy to carry out extremely risky strikes against Ukraine's Snake Island for symbolic reasons, according to British intelligence — and Kyiv is believed to have already shot down one of Moscow's jets near the area.
The Ukrainian Air Force said this week that it shot down a Russian Su-24M attack jet near Snake Island as the aircraft tried to bomb a coastal region amid the Kremlin's grinding nearly two-year war with Ukraine.
The UK's Ministry of Defense said in its latest daily intelligence update on Friday that it was "highly likely" the Russian Su-24M bomber was taken out on Tuesday by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile over the northwestern Black Sea near Snake Island.
Since the summer, the UK intelligence group said, "Russia has continued to conduct high-risk, crewed strike missions against the island."
"This is likely mainly for messaging reasons because the island has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and Russia wants to demonstrate it can project force across the Black Sea," British intelligence said.
According to the UK's Ministry of Defense, the two-man crew on the Russian Su-24M "was likely lost," and "the location and operational conditions would make a successful Russian search and rescue mission extremely challenging."
It was at Snake Island where early in the war, Ukrainian border guards famously cursed out the Russian warship Moskva as Ukrainian forces refused to surrender.
"We haven't had any downed Russian Su aircraft for ages! Let's put that right!" Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, said in a Telegram post on Tuesday as he claimed the Russian Su-24M was shot down, Business Insider previously reported.
"It seems that the Moskva cruiser will soon become an aircraft carrier!" Oleshchuk joked.
According to the UK's Ministry of Defense, Ukraine and Russia still deal with regular combat aircraft losses.
"Overall, air defenses continue to severely limit the effectiveness of tactical air operations," the UK intelligence group said.
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