Ukraine update: 3 Russian Su-34 jets taken out as new Patriot system is deployed

 Sometimes it pays to skip a day. Yesterday, all the news from the front in Ukraine seemed like bad news. While Russia was continuing to sacrifice its forces at an ungodly rate, meat waves seemed like they were crashing on every shore. Russian forces picked up territory around Krynky, drove Ukraine back from territory it had held for weeks south of Robotyne, and—this feels like it’s happened so often that everyone should be able to sing along—drove into the village of Stepove north of Avdiivka.

Russian military sources even reported that they had taken all of Stepove. Again.

But Russia didn’t get all of the village, and on Friday, Ukraine counterattacked, turning the area east of Stepove into another bloody mess of burning Russian hardware and unfortunate Russian troops. The carnage was terrible, but it’s difficult to say whether it was more terrible than all the other rounds of carnage that have come around Avdiivka as Russia shoves unprepared, ill-equipped forces onto the field at gunpoint. Yes, there is more video of a Bradley doing its thing against Russian forces.

Oh, and Ukraine shot down not one, not two, but three Russian SU-34 fighter-bombers. That’s a very bad day for the Russian air force, and helluva a good day for Ukrainian air defense.

Area north of Avdiivka

If the boundaries in this area look familiar, it’s because there has been a remarkable lack of change. That’s despite Russia losing a reported 25,000 troops in this area in two months of trying to cut off the Avdiivka salient. Since the invasion began, nowhere—not Bakhmut, not Vuhledar, not the bridge disaster at Bilohorivka—has seen Russia throw away so many men and so many machines for so little gain. By one estimate, Russia has lost 10,000 men for every kilometer gained in the Avdiivka area,

If Russia were to build a wall of bodies across the area it has gained at Avdiivka, that wall would be 20 bodies tall. And honestly, that may be generous to Russia. Because for weeks now, the losses have continued, but the gains have been even smaller.

For fans of U.S. hardware, the performance of the Bradley in the area around Stepove is simply incredible. Again and again, we’ve seen single Bradleys roll out to obliterate entire Russian columns. With improved electronic warfare in this area helping to hold off FPV drones and limit Russia’s surveillance, the Bradley has been an absolute superstar of the battlefield over the past few weeks. If you want to see the results of the latest engagement, check out the thread below (but, as usual, don’t look too closely if you don’t want to see what a 25 millimeter autocannon does to things that are not armor).

That Russia would subject its forces to this kind of destruction more than once is incomprehensible. That they would do it day after day for weeks seems purely cruel.

Here are some of those Russian troops before one of the attempts to advance near Avdiivka. Not only does almost no one present have any kind of body armor, but also only a handful appear to have winter uniforms. These are men about to walk into oblivion.

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On the south of the map at Robotyne, it’s not clear that Ukraine has recovered areas lost on Thursday.

Robotyne area

Though the lines from pro-Ukrainian open-source intelligence group Deep State have barely shifted, reports from the ground indicate that Russian forces advanced in the area southeast of Robotyne on Thursday. Ukrainian forces reportedly moved back, temporarily ceding these fields to the Russian troops. Those reports may be exaggerated, as Andrew Perpetua’s map also continues to show this area under Ukrainian control.

In any case, for the past two weeks, Ukraine and Russia have been trading a small area between Robotyne and Novoprokopivka. That still seems to be where the main action is centered. If Russia did pick up ground, it’s a pair of empty fields that will be hard to defend.

Switching to Perpetua’s map for Krynky, because it had been updated within the hour when this was written:

Krynky area

Reports on Thursday suggested Russia had moved out of the forests south of Krynky and pressed the Ukrainian troops based in the western edge of the town. Maybe they did, but 24 hours later, it’s hard to see that anything has changed.

Like I said earlier, sometimes it pays to wait. Considering the frustration and exhaustion on both sides, there’s a tendency to report any movement, no matter how small, as if it were the first pebbles in an avalanche. But the drones, minefields, and artillery that restricted movement earlier in the year have now been joined by weather.

Don’t expect anyone to move very quickly in these conditions.


If today represented an improvement on the ground, what happened in the skies was even better. That good news looks like this:

Three Russian Su-34s shot down in one day

Russia has admitted to one Su-34 loss, but Telegram sources have confirmed all three. The export price of the plane is reportedly around $50 million, so this represents a pretty decent day’s work (though the Kilo-class submarine destroyed in Crimea cost somewhere between $300 and $350 million, so the guys behind that one still have bragging rights).

The Su-34 has been used lately to deploy glide bombs that have been especially bad around Kyrnky and at points along the southern front. Taking down three of them in a day likely represents Ukraine deploying a new air defense system in the south. There have been suggestions that this is the result of a new Patriot system, which was delivered by Germany just two weeks ago.

The downing of these three jets should make it harder for Russia to harass Ukrainian forces along the Dnipro. That’s a very good thing.

In other good news, there is this report that the first 18 F-16s will soon be on their way from the Netherlands. Please don’t shoot all the SU-34s down now, guys. Those F-16 pilots will need targets.


With other automakers abandoning Russia, the country has learned to depend on its own impeccable design skills. Get in line now for … the Ambler.

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It’s reportedly being built in a factory that previously cranked out BMWs. This is sure to be just as good. 

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