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Ukraine war: 2 children among 8 killed in Russian strikes, as Kyiv downs bomber that Moscow says ‘malfunctioned’

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Meanwhile, Russian missiles struck cities in the central Dnipro region of Ukraine, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, and injuring 28, local officials said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated Kyiv officials’ almost daily appeals for more Western air defence systems, again drawing a parallel with how Israel blunted a recent Iranian attack.

Missile and drone attacks can be thwarted, he wrote on social platform, X: “This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba added: “Children must not be killed in air strikes in modern Europe.”

The crash remains of the Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber. Photo: Governor of Stavropol Krai via AFP

Russia’s air force is vastly more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems provided by Kyiv’s Western partners are a major threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly push forward along the around 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a major Russian offensive in the summer.

Ukraine said the air force and military intelligence cooperated to bring down the Tu-22M3 bomber with anti-aircraft missiles. Russia commonly uses the bomber to fire Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from inside its own airspace. The plane can also carry nuclear warheads.

The Russian defence ministry said the warplane crashed “in a deserted area” in the southern region of Stavropol, hundreds of kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

Three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, and the search for a fourth is taking place, according to the ministry. But Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov said one of the rescued pilots died.

On Christmas Eve, Ukraine claimed to have shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force said it shot down a Russian early warning and control plane and a key command centre aircraft that relays information to troops on the ground, in what appeared to be a significant blow for the Kremlin’s forces. The next month, Ukraine said it knocked out another early warning and control plane.

Also in January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane that was carrying Ukrainian POWs who were headed for a prisoner swap.

Russian forces overnight conducted a combined aerial attack with the use of 22 missiles of various types and 14 Shahed drones during the night, the Ukrainian air force said. All the drones and 15 of the missiles were intercepted, it said.

The attack hit urban areas as well as train infrastructure in the Dnipro region, Ukraine’s National Railway Operator said. Among those killed in the strikes was employee Oksana Storozhenko, the mother of two teenage sons, it said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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