- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed that the four downed Russian aircraft were “shot down.”
- According to Reuters, Lukashenko addressed Belarusian troops on Monday at the border with Ukraine.
- The Belarusian leader decisively claimed that the four aircraft were shot down — but did not say by whom.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko appears to have inadvertently confirmed that four Russian military aircraft were shot down late last week — before the Kremlin officially made the claim.
On Saturday, Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that one Su-34 fighter-bomber, a Su-35 fighter, and two Mi-8 helicopters were shot down in Russia, near the Ukraine-Belarus border, as the aircraft planned an assault on Ukraine’s Chernihiv region.
No evidence regarding the nature of the crash was provided by the outlet, and neither the Kremlin nor Ukraine has taken responsibility for the apparent downing of the aircraft, but on Monday, Lukashenko seemed to confirm that the planes were shot down, according to Reuters.
The crews on all four aircraft were killed, per Reuters, and Kommersant reported that the “air group most likely fell into an air ambush.” While speaking to troops at the Belarusian border on Monday, Lukashenko urged fighters to stay on high alert, making a more decisive claim about what happened.
“Three days after the events near us — I mean in the Bryansk region, when four aircraft were shot down, we are forced to respond,” Lukashenko said, according to Reuters. “Since then, we, our troops, have been on high alert.”
—Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) May 13, 2023
With no official response from Ukraine or the Kremlin, it’s still unclear exactly what happened, but Lukashenko’s slip suggests a breakdown in communication between Russia and one of its closest allies.
The crash signified the most Russian aircraft lost in a single day since March 2022, according to the pro-Russia Telegram channel Fighterbomber.
In the days surrounding the alleged downing of the aircraft, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has made the rounds to various EU allies and the UK, securing further munitions as Ukraine has mounted a building counteroffensive in Bakhmut.
Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Zelensky’s advisors, called the crash “justice and instant karma,” according to Reuters.