Two Su-34 fighter bomber jet collided near the Tatar Strait in Russia during a planned flight, search for the crew is underway. This is a representational image of a Su-34 bomber jet that had the former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev aboard flying over the Kubinka airfield near Moscow, March 28, 2009. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images


  • Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin suggested identifying the characteristics of the air defense system
  • Prigozhin suggested checking whose air defenses could possibly be located near the downed aircraft
  • Russian bloggers accused Ukraine of shooting down the four military aircraft

The head of the notorious Russian mercenary group Wagner hinted that Moscow's air defense systems could be responsible for shooting down four Russian military aircraft in Russia's Bryansk region, an area bordering Ukraine, over the weekend.

In his Telegram post, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggested identifying who owns air defense systems possibly located at the center of the 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius of the four downed aircraft, as well as their characteristics.

"f you draw a circle in the places of their fall, it turns out that this circle has a diameter (and all of them lie exactly in a circle) of 40 kilometers," Prigozhin said.

"That is, the radius of the circle is 20 kilometers. Now go on the Internet and see what kind of anti-aircraft weapon could be in the center of this circle," the Wagner boss added.

On Saturday, one Su-34 fighter bomber, a Su-35 fighter jet and two Mi-8 helicopters were shot down in Bryansk, killing all four crews, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported.

Alexander Bogomaz, the head of the Russian region, said the incident also wounded a local resident and damaged five houses.

The jets were supposed to conduct missile and bomb attacks in the Ukrainian region of Chernihiv, while the two choppers were set to provide support and pick up Su crews if they were shot down by the Ukrainian forces, according to Russian media.

Footages circulating on social media showed one of the ill-fated Russian aircraft catching fire and falling from the sky.

Russian military bloggers described the incident as the worst day in Russian military aviation since March last year and quickly blamed Ukraine for it.

Russian military blogger Daniil Bezsonov claimed that Ukraine caused the incident, alleging that the country had moved its air defense systems into the border zone, "from which the distance would allow our air group to be hit," CNN reported.

Another Russian pro-military Telegram channel also accused Ukraine of being responsible for the incident, saying it has launched rockets from the Chernihiv region.

While Ukraine's involvement in the Russian aviation incident remains unclear, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described it as "instant karma."

"'Killers on wings' were destroyed before the next crime would be committed," Podolyak said.

The latest aviation incident came roughly a month after a Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jet accidentally discharged its weapons while flying over the Russian city of Belgorod.

According to Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia's Belgorod region, the incident created a 20-meter (66-foot) crater on one of the city's main streets. The accident also injured two civilians and damaged four cars and four apartment buildings.

Putin Ally Yevgenii Prigozhin
Russian billionaire and businessman, Concord catering company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images