Russia Accidentally Bombs Own City

April 21, 2023

A Russian jet accidentally bombed a Russian city Thursday night, leaving three people injured and prompting a city-wide emergency evacuation.

An explosion in Belgorod, a city of 340,000 residents about 20 miles north of the Ukrainian border, was described by Moscow’s Defense Ministry as “an emergency release of an air ordnance.”

Russian jets regularly fly over Belgorod on their way to Ukraine, and a Su-34 bomber was blamed for Thursday night’s blast. 

The Su-34 is a supersonic twin-engine bomber equipped with sophisticated sensors and weapons. Russia has used it widely during the war in Syria as well as in Ukraine.

Boris Rozhin, a pro-Russian military analyst and blogger, suggested in a Telegram post that the accident could have been the result of a malfunction in a GPS guidance kit attached to a munition carried by the Su-34. 

Ukrainian officials and military analysts say that Moscow is using these GPS kits in an effort to turn unguided munitions into cheap substitutes for precision aerial weapons.

The kits are still “raw” and easily malfunction, according to Rozhin’s posting.

Military experts surmise that the weapon dropped on Belgorod was a powerful 1,100-pound bomb. Witnesses in the city reported hearing a low hissing sound Thursday night followed by the blast. It left a 66-foot-wide crater in the middle of a residential boulevard lined with apartment buildings, and a car was thrown onto the roof of a store amid the impact. 

The Defense Ministry had initially said there were no casualties. But Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, contradicted that claim in a Telegram post on Friday morning, saying that three people had been hurt by the explosion.

The Belgorod bombing is not the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine 14 months ago that civilians have been injured accidentally by the Russian military. In October a Su-34 fighter jet crashed in the Russian city of Yeysk killing at least 15 people.

The military says it has launched an investigation into Thursday’s incident. Quoting a former military pilot, pro-government news site Moskovsky Komsomolets suggested “the conclusions [of the investigation] are unlikely to be made public, but lessons will be learned.”

PHOTO Source: Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram

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