Russian jets have crashed into apartment buildings twice in less than a week, highlighting Putin’s military struggles at home and abroad

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Russian Sukhoi SU-30 SM military aircraft perform during the MAKS-2017 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, Russia, on July 19, 2017.
Russian Sukhoi SU-30 SM military aircraft perform during the MAKS-2017 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, Moscow Region, Russia, on July 19, 2017.

  • A Russian warplane crashed in Siberia on Sunday, killing both pilots.
  • The crash was the second time in less than a week a Russian military aircraft slammed into a residential area, causing fatalities.
  • The deadly crashes come as Russia’s military also struggles abroad in its fight in Ukraine.

A Russian fighter jet crashed into an apartment building on Sunday in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, killing both pilots, Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said. It’s the second time in less than a week that a Russian warplane crashed into a residential area, resulting in fatalities. 

“The Su-30 crashed into a private wooden apartment building during a test flight,” the ministry said in a Sunday statement, adding that there were no civilian casualties. It said the crash caused a 2,150-square-foot-large fire, noting that “at the moment, open fire has been eliminated.”

Video footage that was published to Russian state media appears to show the warplane plummet in a nose dive before falling behind a row a trees, where it exploded in a massive fireball. A slightly longer video published to social media by a Ukrainian journalist also appears to capture the incident. Insider was unable to immediately verify the footage. 

The deadly crash occurred in southern Russia’s Irkutsk, a city of just under 620,000 residents not far from the country’s border with Mongolia.

The Washington Post reported that local authorities declared a state of emergency in the district where the crash occurred, and Russia’s state-owned aerospace company United Aircraft Corporation will investigate the incident. 

A picture taken late on October 23, 2022, shows emergency personnel working at the crash site of a military jet in a residential area in Irkutsk, Siberia, southeastern Russia.
A picture taken late on October 23, 2022, shows emergency personnel working at the crash site of a military jet in a residential area in Irkutsk, Siberia, southeastern Russia.

A picture taken late on October 23, 2022, shows emergency personnel working at the crash site of a military jet in a residential area in Irkutsk, Siberia, southeastern Russia.
A picture taken late on October 23, 2022, shows emergency personnel working at the crash site of a military jet in a residential area in Irkutsk, Siberia, southeastern Russia.

Sunday’s crash in Russia is the second fatal incident involving a Russian warplane in less than a week. On October 17, a Russian Su-34 strike fighter caught fire during a training mission and crashed into a residential building in western Russia’s port city of Yeysk. 

At least 13 people were killed in the accident, which led Russian authorities to say that the two pilots — who managed to eject from the aircraft before it crashed — could face criminal charges.

A view shows the site of a plane crash, after a Sukhoi Su-34 supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber plunged towards the residential building, in the southern city of Yeysk, Russia October 17, 2022.
A view shows the site of a plane crash, after a Sukhoi Su-34 supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber plunged towards the residential building, in the southern city of Yeysk, Russia October 17, 2022.

Both deadly incidents seem to highlight the struggles of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military at home while his forces continue to face battlefield setbacks and suffer substantial losses abroad in Ukraine.

In addition to Ukraine’s advances along the war’s eastern front, Ukrainian forces have pushed toward the key southern city of Kherson, which has been under Russian occupation since the early days of the war.  

Russian officers and medics have reportedly evacuated from the city, leaving inexperienced and newly drafted soldiers — who have complained that they are ill-equipped — with the task of defending it from the advancing Ukrainians. Last week, Russia frantically started to move tens of thousands of civilians out of the city, signaling the expectation of intense urban warfare.    

Putin’s forces, which are running low on long-range precision guided munitions, have in recent weeks also become increasingly reliant on the use of Iranian-made suicide drones — identified as the Shahed-136 type — for terror blitz-style attacks on civilians and infrastructure targets across Ukraine, something Russian forces appear to be turning to as they struggle to hold positions along the front.

“Russia is likely expending a high number of Iranian Shahed-136 UAVs in order to penetrate increasingly effective Ukrainian air defences,” Britain’s defense ministry said in a Monday intelligence update. “It is likely using them as a substitute for Russian-manufactured long-range precision weapons which are becoming increasingly scarce.”

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