According to Kommersant, two Russian fighter aircraft and two military helicopters were shot down near the Ukrainian border in the Bryansk region of Russia. If confirmed, this would be a shocking military operation for Kyiv.
On Saturday, respected independent business daily Kommersant reported on its website that a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber, Su-35 fighter, and two Mi-8 helicopters were "shot down almost simultaneously" in an ambush in the Bryansk region, which borders northeast Ukraine.
"According to preliminary data,... the fighters were supposed to deliver a missile and bomb attack on targets in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, and the helicopters were there to back them up, including picking up the 'Su' crews if they were shot down," the media outlet reported.
Kommersant provided no evidence to support its claim that Ukrainian forces shot down the four aircraft, but several prominent pro-war military commentators made the same claim.
The Russian Ministry of Defense did not respond promptly to a request for comment. There was no official reaction from Ukraine, which typically refuses to comment on reports of attacks on Russian territory, but pro-Ukrainian social media was rife with rumors that the downing of the four aircraft was not an accident.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, stated in a tweet that the Russian aircraft intended to initiate a "missile-bomb attack" on the Chernihiv region of Ukraine but were "destroyed by 'unknown persons'," which he termed "instant karma."
"'Killers on wings' were destroyed BEFORE the next crime would be committed," he wrote.
On Saturday, the Russian state news agency TASS reported that a Russian Su-34 warplane had crashed in that region but did not specify the cause.
TASS also reported that an emergency services official stated that an engine fire caused a Russian helicopter to crash near Klintsy in Bryansk, approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Ukrainian frontier. The report did not mention the Su-35 or the accident or downing of a second Russian helicopter.
A video posted on the Russian prowar Telegram channel Voyenniy Osvedomitel, which has approximately 500,000 subscribers, depicted a helicopter high in the sky suffering an explosion, being thrown off course, and then plummeting towards the ground in flames, followed by a huge plume of thick black smoke emerging from what appeared to be the crash site.
The accompanying commentary, which Reuters could not corroborate immediately, stated that the video depicted a Mi-8 being shot down by a missile. Other images posted by the channel and military blogs depicted aircraft in flight and aircraft wreckage in fields.
According to Voyenniy Osvedomitel, "It appears that the enemy set up an ambush with air defenses that were previously transferred to a border zone close enough to strike our group."
According to the report, the downed helicopters appeared to be Mi-8MTPR-1 electronic warfare helicopters capable of jamming hostile radio and target signals.
According to the Kommersant news website, all four crews were slain.
According to The Kyiv Independent, Russian authorities are currently searching for "saboteurs" in relation to the devastation of the military aircraft.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, geolocated footage from the crash locations located the incident approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border.
The Washington, D.C.-based think center reported that "Russian [military bloggers] speculated that all four aircraft went down as a result of a coordinated Ukrainian strike using air defense systems pulled to the border region of Chernihiv Oblast."
"Several Russian milbloggers seized on the incident to criticize aspects of how the Russian aerospace forces conduct air operations and to accuse the leadership responsible for these aircraft of gross negligence and incompetence," reported the ISW.
Saturday morning, Ukraine reported multiple Russian drone attacks and explosives in the western Ukrainian region of Khmelnytsky. The same-named regional capital's mayor, Oleksandr Symchyshyn, stated that vital infrastructure had been damaged and people had been injured.
Authorities reported that eleven individuals were injured. Apparently, railway infrastructure was also affected.
ISW reported that according to the Ukrainian military, 18 out of 22 Iranian "kamikaze drones" of type Shahed-131/136 were shot down during nocturnal attacks.