Russia’s most advanced fighter jet has been shot down in an incident involving the country’s own air defence systems, according to reports.
A tribute to the pilot of a Russian Su-35 has been posted on a Telegram Channel believed to be linked to the country’s air force.
The plane reportedly crashed near Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Oblast with footage appearing to capture the moment the aircraft was blown out of the sky.
Ukrainian sources have claimed that the Su-35 was hit by a Russian S-300 missile.
Open-source intelligence outlet Oryx which tracks equipment losses in the conflict had recorded four downed Russian Su-35 jets since Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Ukraine has been putting pressure on Russian defences to the far north of Tokmak as part of a grinding months-long offensive.
The offensive which began in early June has failed to achieve the goal of breaking through to Tokmak before sweeping down to the Sea of Azov, liberating the city of Melitopol on the way.
Limited gains such as the capture of the village of Robotyne have come at a heavy cost for Ukranian forces.
Time is slowly running out as winter sets in and the ground becomes too muddy and frozen for large-scale manoeuvres.
In the build-up to the offensive, Ukraine received a massive influx of modern NATO-tier equipment like the US Bradley armoured fighting vehicles.
The combat effectiveness of the Western supplies equipment has appeared mixed with repeated assaults on entrenched Russian defences seeing many donated tanks and armoured vehicles destroyed or abandoned.
The fighting has not been entirely in Russia’s favour with Ukraine able to point to the success of long-range missile strikes on high-value targets in Crimea.
Strikes such as the one that hit the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet last week also play a valuable role in boosting the morale of Ukrainian forces who have little ground to show for months of brutal combat.