Russia started a military operation in Ukraine on February 24 in response to calls from the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for protection against attacks by Ukrainian forces.
The pilot of the Russian Su-25 attack aircraft was able to land the plane after being hit by a missile from a Ukrainian man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), the Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday.
“While performing a combat mission in the special military operation zone, a Su-25 attack aircraft, the second in the pair, was hit by a missile from a man-portable air defence system fired from the ground by a serviceman of the armed forces of Ukraine,” the ministry said.
The ministry released a video of the damaged aircraft landing at the base.
According to the ministry, the pilot of the damaged aircraft, having assessed the situation, decided to turn off the damaged engine and not to eject. The pilot of the leading plane, Lieutenant Colonel Denis Litvinov, rebuilt, and realizing that his comrade’s plane could not withstand a second missile hit, he covered it with his own plane.
The ministry noted that “thanks to the cool-nerved and skillful actions of the pilot Denis Litvinov, he managed to save the life of his comrade and the combat aircraft, both pilots were presented for state awards.”
Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine on 24 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin called its goal “the protection of people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years”. For this, according to him, it is planned to carry out the “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine”, and to bring to justice all war criminals responsible for “bloody crimes against civilians” in Donbass.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Armed Forces strike only at the military infrastructure and Ukrainian forces. With the support of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) groups are developing an offensive. But there is no talk of the occupation of Ukraine, the President of Russia stressed.
Russia and Ukraine have already held three rounds of peace negotiations, saying on 13 March that the two sides have made substantial progress compared to when the talks had just started.
In response to Russia’s operation, the Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow.