https://www.newsweek.com-By Brendan Cole
Above, BUK air defense missile systems are displayed during a military parade in Kyiv on August 24, 2016. A commander of a Buk unit said it had managed to down a Russian plane without firing a missile. GENYA SAVILOV/Getty Images
A Ukrainian army commander has said that his unit managed to down a Russian plane without firing a missile, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s ArmyINFORM outlet.
Yaroslav Melnyk headed a unit that has so far destroyed 28 targets, including 11 combat aircraft, two helicopters, two cruise missiles, and 13 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAVs], ArmyINFORM reported. His Buk M1 anti-aircraft missile battery has been fighting in the eastern Kharkiv region since the start of Vladimir Putin‘s full-scale invasion on February 24.
Melnyk said that his unit had initially carried out combat work in areas including Novaya Kakhovka, and later Zaporizhzhya, the city where hostilities near Europe’s biggest nuclear reactor had sparked international concern.
He described how his battery had stood firm against Russian aircraft over the Kharkiv region, as they carried out air raids on the city of Izyum and surrounding areas. On one occasion, he said, his unit did not need to fully deploy its full surface-to-air capabilities when the Buk illumination radar system that tracks and illuminates a target was enough to ward the Russian pilot off.
“We also shot down a plane without firing a single missile,” he said, explaining that the Russian pilot likely reacted to a radar exposure warning signal in his cockpit showing how he was being tracked.
“He realized that he had turned from being a hunter to being a target. This probably stunned the pilot so much that he immediately ejected. The plane crashed,” he added. The location and date of the incident were not specified and could not be independently verified by Newsweek.
On August 6, which is the country’s national air force day, Melnyk was awarded Ukraine’s highest honors, the Order of the Golden Star and Hero of Ukraine by the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
The report comes as Zelensky suggested that as the counteroffensive against Russia in the south of Ukraine continues, other such operations could be taking place.
He told ABC News: “I won’t say that it’s only a counter-offensive in Kherson, there is a direction or directions, plural, and we have to move forward.”
The southern offensive has prompted Kherson occupiers to “pause” a planned referendum on whether to become part of Russia, due to the security situation, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Meanwhile, Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai, said on Telegram that Ukrainian troops have “gained a foothold” in the eastern region and “advanced a little.”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign ministry for comment.