Ukraine destroyed three Russian helicopters in just half an hour, according to its air force.
Last night three Ka-52 helicopters became the latest victims of Vladimir Putin’s botched invasion, with around 281 Kremlin helicopters downed since the outbreak of war 11 months ago.
The £12million single-seat attack helicopter is nicknamed the Black Shark and has been described as Russia’s ‘deadliest helicopter’.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian spy chief has warned that if Russia’s new offensive fails, it could spell the “ruin” of Putin.
Ukraine destroyed three Russian Ka-52 helicopters in just half an hour (Pictured: A serviceman checks a Ka-52 attack helicopter in Lugansk this month)
The Ka-52’s battlefield management system allows it to share data with other aircraft to coordinate attack operations.
The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said today: “During half an hour of anti-aircraft combat from 00:00 to 00:30 on January 24, units of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Army of air forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed three Russian Ka-52 attack helicopters heading east.
Kyiv anticipates an imminent three-pronged attack from northern Belarus, from the Russian strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and south from the Crimean peninsula.
If successful, Moscow’s troops would encircle the defending forces in the pincer movement that would push Ukraine back after a series of advances in recent months.
But today Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, told Delfi: “If the big Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the ruin of Russia and Putin.”
US officials have said Ukraine plans to launch its own offensive against Russia after a stagnant winter, but urged them to wait until spring once they receive more weapons.
Ukrainian servicemen climb on top of an infantry fighting vehicle during offensive and assault exercises in Zaporizhzhia
A soldier fires an RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher during exercises in Zaporizhzhia yesterday
Officials in Kyiv are preparing for the assault after winter put an end to the rapid change in control of territory.
Rustem Umerov, a member of Zelensky’s negotiating team, told The Daily Beast: “The Russians are encircling us at 240 degrees, attacking from the Black Sea, from Belarus and the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.”
Fighting has already intensified in Zaporizhzhia, which had been stagnant for months, in anticipation of the assault.
Officials expect a pincer attack on the city and Kharkiv when Putin issues the orders for the simultaneous offensive.
“In the direction of Zaporizhzhia, the intensity of military activity has increased sharply,” the official, Vladimir Rogov, said on the social media platform Telegram.
The front lines in the war were largely frozen for two months despite heavy casualties on both sides.
Western countries pledged billions of dollars in military aid last week, but have yet to respond to Kyiv’s request for hundreds of heavy battle tanks, which they need to break through Russian lines and recover the occupied territories.
Ukrainian officials have warned that if the new Russian offensive fails, it could be Putin’s ‘ruin’
Most defense experts say the most suitable tanks available in sufficient numbers are the German-made Leopards. But Berlin has so far held back from sending them, or pledging to let allies like Poland send them.
Germany was not blocking the re-export of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the European Union’s foreign minister said on Monday.
Meanwhile, Russian forces shelled Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces repelled 11 attacks, including 10 in the Donetsk region, including areas of the town of Bakhmut and the village of Klishchiivka in the south, the Ukrainian military said on Tuesday.
Last week, Russia said it had captured Klishchiivka. Russian forces have been pushing for months for control of Bakhmut, but with limited success.
Moscow put the chief of its military staff, Valery Gerasimov, in direct command of the war this month in at least the third senior leadership reshuffle since the invasion.
In his first interview since taking command of the battlefield, Gerasimov stuck to Moscow’s line that his “special military operation” is a form of defense against a threat from the West.
“Our country and its armed forces are today acting against the entire collective West,” he told the Argumenty i Fakty news site.