Back In Action! Russia Re-Deploys Tu-22 M3 Bomber To Attack Ukrainian Airbase After Devastating ‘Incident’

The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) deployed a Tu-22M3 bomber for the first time on the night of June 13-14 after an unprecedented accident in April. 

Russia’s Tu-22 M3 Bomber Comes ‘Crashing Down’ After Bombing Run; Ukraine Quickly Claims Shootdown

Ukrainian media reported that Russian forces began an aerial strike on Ukraine, mostly targeting the western regions of the country with ballistic missiles, drones, and Kh-101/Kh-55 missiles fired from at least five strategic bombers.

Some unverified reports claimed that Russia used at least four Tu-22M3 bombers that took off from the Dyagilevo airfield near Ryazan. Some reports stated that it was the first time that the Tu-22M3 came within the range of Ukrainian air defense after being shot down in April.

EurAsian Times could not independently verify these reports. However, social media was bursting with claims about the bomber’s role in the strike.

In April this year, Ukrainian forces shot down a Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bomber of the Russian air force in the first such loss for the Russian bomber fleet. The incident took place in the morning, right after a Russian attack on Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

At that time, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said, “For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the (Ukrainian) Air Force, in cooperation with Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, destroyed a Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber – the carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles, which the Russian terrorists use to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities.”

The Russian aircraft crashed in the Krasnogvardeysky District of Stavropol Krai. The video of the crash was subsequently published on social media. The Russian bomber could be seen on fire and in a flat spin as it came down.

While Russia attributed the crash to a technical error, Ukraine maintained that it had managed to down the aircraft and later claimed that the Kremlin had pulled back the bombers after the incident.

The attack’s main focus was Starokostyantyniv in the Khmelnytsky area, which is believed to be the location of a sizable Ukrainian air base. Russia has attacked the airbase on multiple occasions in the ongoing conflict and was previously believed to be housing the carrier of Ukraine’s Storm Shadow missiles, the Su-24MR fighter jets.

When asked about the damage to the airfield, the Ukrainian Air Force (UAF) spokesperson Illya Yevlash stated that the UAF would not comment on videos and information making the rounds on social media regarding the purported damage to its aircraft by Russian attacks since doing so could assist the enemy.

He said, “We cannot report when the enemy hits a dummy or a real object. That would play into the enemy’s hands.”

However, he also highlighted a new strategy adopted by the Russian forces to strike Ukraine. He noted that Russia was employing a tactic that combined airstrikes with regrouping and reorienting missile and drone movements.

“First of all, this is a tactic of combined strikes, using unmanned aerial vehicles from different directions in combination with various types of missiles. They can modify different elements, for instance, the warhead: increasing or decreasing its size depending on the assigned task. Additionally, as we saw last night, for example, three groups of Shahed drones merged into two, then ceased to exist. This means regrouping and changing the direction of movement.”

Elaborating with an example, he said, “Cruise missiles today reached western Ukraine, [heading] to Kolomyia, then turned around and flew back towards Starokostiantyniv. So, such maneuvers with changes in altitude occur from time to time. Each attack is unique in its way.”

While Russian forces continue to launch one attack after another, the Russian President has claimed that his country would agree to a ceasefire if Ukraine agreed to a key condition.


Putin’s Proposal For A Ceasefire 

On June 14, after the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if Kyiv began pulling out its soldiers from the four areas that Moscow had annexed in 2022 and gave up on joining NATO, Moscow would “immediately” declare a ceasefire in the country and start negotiations.

“We will do it immediately,” Putin said in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

An arrangement like this seems unfeasible for Kyiv. It has demanded that Russia remove its soldiers from all of its territory and continued with its demand to join the NATO military alliance. Russia’s suggestion elicited no immediate response from Ukraine.

The announcement follows the G7 meeting in Italy and precedes a summit in Switzerland (excluding Russia) to lay the groundwork for peace in Ukraine. This week, the United States and Ukraine also inked a 10-year security accord, which they celebrated as a turning point in the bilateral relations. Putin’s announcement, thus, seems too well-timed.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, after being thwarted from taking Kyiv, the fighting was concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine.

By the fall of 2022, Russia annexed four of these regions from Ukraine in what has been termed “illegal” by Ukraine. Despite the annexation, Kyiv’s forces have held their positions in all these regions.

Putin said his proposal was aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it”, and stressed that the Kremlin was “ready to start negotiations without delay.”