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Putin’s warplanes just bombed one of his own cities

By Jimmy Adeel
|
April 30, 2023

An embarrassing incident occurred in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border, as one of Vladimir Putin's Su-34 fighter bombers accidentally dropped a bomb, creating a massive explosion.

The bomb narrowly missed moving vehicles and an apartment block, leaving a 70-foot crater in the middle of the road, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Blunder Details and Aftermath

The incident took place on Thursday night, April 20, injuring two women, with one requiring hospitalization.

Belgorod region governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported that one woman suffered a head injury while the other was treated at the scene. The explosion damaged homes, roads, and a convenience store, where a car was thrown onto its roof due to the shockwave.

The Belgorod region has been tense because of Putin's war against Ukraine, with 30 people killed and 123 wounded since the invasion began.

Since the conflict started, southern Russia has experienced several explosions at fuel and ammunition storage sites.

Acknowledging the Error

Russian commentators and military bloggers initially posited theories about the weapon Ukraine may have used for the attack.

However, the Russian Defense Ministry responded quickly and admitted that the explosion resulted from a weapon accidentally dropped by one of its Su-34 bombers.

The ministry acknowledged the error, attributing the incident to an "abnormal descent of aviation ammunition.”

Journalist Dmitry Kolezev noted that it was "miraculous no one died," according to official figures, adding that admitting self-bombing was better than admitting the Ukrainian Armed Forces could inflict such powerful strikes on Russian cities.

The Bomb and Speculation

The bomb is suspected to be a modernized FAB-500M62, a Soviet-designed 500kg general-purpose weapon with a high-explosive warhead. This "high precision" weapon has been used to strike targets in Ukraine, but these munitions have been rushed into service and are prone to errors.

Analyst Kirill Mikhailov explained that several factors must function correctly for the bomb to work as intended, and something went wrong in this process.

Investigation and Context

Governor Gladkov confirmed that an investigation team and the Ministry of Emergency Situations employees are working at the explosion's site.

The city of Belgorod is just 15 miles from the Ukrainian border and 50 miles from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

The Su-34 is Russia's frontline bomber, and estimates indicate that approximately 10% of Russia's fleet was lost during the war against Ukraine, which has been ongoing for nearly 14 months.

In October 2022, a Su-34 fighter bomber crashed near a residential building in Yeysk, Russia's Krasnodar region, killing 15 people.

Six days later, a Su-30 military plane crashed on a two-story house in Irkutsk.