A Russian Su-25 fighter jet was reportedly shot down in the Balakleya area of the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, where the Ukrainian forces have launched an offensive to open a new front against the invading Russian army.
A pair of Su-25 fighter jets were first seen conducting airstrikes against Ukrainian positions in Balakleya, a city in Izium district on the north-east side of the Siverskyi Donets river.
Shortly afterward, another video showed the two Russian fighter jets flying very low. One of them was shot down by a missile, reportedly a MANPAD [Man-Portable Air Defense System]
Su-25's attacking Ukr positions at Balakleya
— Prateek? (@PrateekRoutray) September 7, 2022
The video is said to have been filmed in the Volkhov Yar area of Balakleya, and the two Su-25 jets can be seen flying about 20 meters from the ground when one of them is hit by a projectile, after which the aircraft can be seen falling.
There were also reports that the pilot managed to land the combat aircraft safely without extending the landing gear. That said, the pilot’s fate remains unknown when writing this report.
Ukraine Launches New Offensive
According to the latest reports, Ukrainian forces have opened up a second counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region that appears to have taken many by surprise, except the Russians.
So, Ukrainian counteroffensive near Kharkiv has begun. Keep our fingers crossed.
— Taras Berezovets (@TarasBerezovets) September 6, 2022
While various media reports and commentators have characterized this as a ‘sudden’ or ‘surprise’ offensive, Russian Telegram channels have been talking about a Ukrainian build-up in Kharkiv for over a month, which has largely gone unnoticed because of the hype surrounding Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Kherson that began in late July.
The Starshe Eddy channel (shared by Kots) posted about Ukraine reinforcing its positions in the Izyum front with reserves despite publicly hyping an offensive in Kherson. It also alleges that Ukraine continues infantry advances in Kherson without armor.https://t.co/d1pMySArsN pic.twitter.com/ZDkQaNfHMD
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) August 7, 2022
A Kyiv-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov told Reuters that control of Balakleya could enable the Ukraine forces to encircle or partially encircle the Russian-held city of Izium, from where the Russian forces are managing their ongoing offensive on Sloviansk.
Sloviansk and Kramatorsk are the last two Ukrainian-held major cities in Donetsk, which, once captured by the Russian forces, will allow Moscow to declare complete victory in Donbas.
Kherson Offensive Appears To Be Faltering
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces continue their efforts on their southern offensive to retake the Kherson region, the most ambitious military operation by Kyiv so far in the ongoing Ukraine war, which appears to be faltering, according to the latest reports.
Wounded Ukrainian soldiers who were a part of the ongoing Kherson offensive have revealed in an interview that the Ukrainian forces are taking a heavy toll in terms of lives because of the massive technological advantage enjoyed by the Russian military.
The soldiers said that the Ukrainian forces lacked the artillery required to force the Russian army from its well-entrenched positions. In contrast, the Russian troops pounded them with cluster bombs, phosphorous munitions, and mortars.
????A group of Ukrainian soldiers with heavy equipment being destroyed by Russian artillery in the #Kherson direction#KhersonCounteroffensive #KhersonOffensive #Russia #Ukraine️ #UkrainianArmy #UkraineRussiaWar #RussianArmy pic.twitter.com/hSg2rI5YVD
— Owari no Ōutsuke (@owarino_outsuke) September 2, 2022
“We lost five people for every one they did,” Ihor, a 30-year-old Ukrainian platoon commander, told the Washington Post. Ihor injured his back when the tank he was riding in crashed into a ditch.
Whatever little artillery units there are within the Ukrainian forces are being detected and located by the Russian counter-battery radar systems enabling them to respond with pinpoint artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions.
The Ukrainian soldiers further said that the Russian Orlan drones have been exposing Ukrainian positions from more than a kilometer away without the Ukrainian troops even hearing the sound of the drone tracking their movements.
In Kherson the Russians are holding the frontline with only 25 infantry soldiers per km. This video of Russian artillery raining down on two advancing Ukrainian columns shows why this is possible. The Russian Artillery & Orlan-10 observation drone combination is very efficient pic.twitter.com/xlS2YwGrXn
— Klaus Eriksen (@Fireblade577) July 14, 2022
The Ukrainian drones, on the contrary, are being hijacked by Russian hacking tools, with Ukrainian operators left helpless, having to watch their drones drift away behind the enemy lines.
Kherson was quickly captured by the Russian forces in the initial days of their invasion that began on February 24, giving the Russians enough time to fortify their positions.
This was evident from the accounts of the wounded Ukrainian soldiers who described how the Russian tanks would emerge from newly built cement fortifications to pound the Ukrainian infantry with large-caliber artillery rounds and then withdraw into their concrete shelters.
Apart from that, the Russian forces are also effectively employing their electronic warfare systems, posing a constant threat to the Ukrainian forces.
“When we turn on mobile phones or radio, they can recognize our presence immediately,” said Denys, a 33-year-old Ukrainian soldier whose unit fell back from a Russian-held village after a lengthy barrage of Russian artillery fire. “And then the shooting starts.”
Kyiv Struggles To Keep The West On Its Side
Politico reported on September 2, citing anonymous Western officials, that Ukraine has been warned by the Western governments against spreading its forces too thinly to maximize its territorial gains.
The success of the Kherson offensive is paramount to ensuring the continued supply of military aid to Ukraine from its Western partners, who are already facing the brunt of increased energy prices and inflation due to sanctions on Russia.
Annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries rose to 9.1% in August, up from 8.9% in July, as per the latest figures released by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat. Meanwhile, in the US, the prices were up 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier.
Reports suggest the authorities in Kyiv are already under pressure to convince the US that such massive multi-billion dollar military aid is paying off, and they are under a tight deadline because the winter will soon arrive, meaning both sides will have to stop the fighting during the harsh winter.
At the same time, the winner will also test the resolve of the European countries staring down the barrel of brutal winter with limited energy supply.
Germany has already turned off the lights illuminating the monuments in its capital Berlin to save electricity while the French government has directed all shop owners to keep their doors shut while the air conditioning is on.
Some of Berlin’s most famous landmarks are looking much darker these summer nights. That’s because they have turned their lights off as part of Germany’s effort to conserve as much energy as possible before winter. pic.twitter.com/kzjr1v5sVA
— DW Global Ideas & Environment (@dw_environment) August 1, 2022
“The goal for Russia is to continue to grind down Ukrainian forces on the battlefield while waiting for the political will to support Ukraine to fade among Western countries,” Colin Clarke, research director at the New York-based think tank Soufan Center, told Politico.