Ukraine downs Russian strategic bomber after airstrike kills eight, Kyiv says

By Tom Balmforth and Anastasiia Malenko

KYIV/DNIPRO, Ukraine (Reuters) -Ukraine shot down a Russian strategic bomber on Friday after the warplane took part in a long-range airstrike that killed eight people including two children in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, Kyiv said.

Missiles rained down on the city of Dnipro and the surrounding region in the early hours, damaging residential buildings and the main train station.

Regional Governor Serhiy Lysak said three people died in Dnipro, including a man whose body was pulled from the rubble of a five-storey building, while five others were killed in nearby areas of Dnipropetrovsk region.

A 14-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy were among the dead, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Russia has stepped up its long-range aerial assaults on Ukraine's energy system and other targets in recent weeks, ratcheting up the pressure on Kyiv behind the front lines where Russian forces have been slowly advancing in the east.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says the energy system is a legitimate target, but hundreds of civilians have been killed during airstrikes.

In a wartime first for Ukraine, Kyiv's top military spy said Ukrainian forces had shot down a Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber from a distance of just over 300 km (180 miles) after the plane fired missiles in the overnight attack.

"I can only say the plane was hit at a distance of 308 km, quite far away," Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), said in a BBC-Ukraine interview, parts of which were posted by the agency on the Telegram messaging app.

He said they downed the warplane in the same way Kyiv shot down Russian A-50 early warning and control aircraft earlier this year.

An intelligence source told Reuters the plane had been hit using a modified S-200, a Soviet-era long-range surface-to-air missile system.

Unconfirmed social media footage showed a warplane with its tail on fire spiralling towards the ground.

The Russian defence ministry confirmed a bomber had crashed in Russia's southern Stavropol region, hundreds of kilometres from Ukrainian-controlled territory, as it returned to base after carrying out a combat mission.

But it said the crash appeared to have been caused by a technical malfunction.

Of the four Russian air force crew members ejected from the warplane, two were rescued, one died and a rescue operation was under way for the fourth, the Russian regional governor said.


Civilians in a five-storey residential building hit in Dnipro said they were shaken up. The building's top floor was partially destroyed and firefighters battled to put out a fire early in the morning.

"My wife and daughter are in shock. They say they won't go back to the apartment and asked me to evacuate them somewhere because they won't be able to stay here anymore," said Serhii, a resident.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the site of the strike and called on Ukraine's allies to rush in supplies of air defences as Ukraine's stocks dwindle due to a slowdown in vital Western military aid.

Ukraine's air force said it shot down 15 incoming missiles, including two Kh-22 cruise missiles and 14 drones overnight.

Air defences shot down 11 of 16 missiles and nine of 10 drones targeting the Dnipropetrovsk region, governor Lysak said.

Zelenskiy said more Russian missiles had struck the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi in the southern Odesa region on Friday afternoon, destroying grain storage facilities and foodstuffs they contained.

(Reporting by Anastasiia Malenko, Yuliia Dysa and Mykhailo Moskalenko; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Philippa Fletcher, Alex Richardson and Richard Chang)