After more than three months of war in Ukraine, Moscow turned its attention to securing the Donbas region, where Russian troops have been facing off against Ukrainian defenders in a vicious ground war. Tim Ripley looks at the role of airpower in this pivotal battle
In between an abandoned factory building and the slag heaps of an old coal mine, the distinctive silhouettes of two Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots could clearly be made out. The two ground attack aircraft weaved past a pair of high industrial chimneys and turned towards a civilian, who was filming the scene on his mobile phone. In a matter of seconds, the Frogfoots screeched overhead, completely filling the frame of his phone’s camera. It was easy to identify the Su-25’s traditional cargo of bombs and rocket pods, but in a flash, the jets were gone.