As eight Russian planes are shot down in one day, captured troops condemn the invasion to TV cameras

A Russian attack helicopter makes a threatening low pass over a rural village in Ukraine, its gunship fully equipped with missiles and machine guns.

But, unbeknownst to the crew of the state-of-the-art Mi-24 Hind aircraft, Ukrainian soldiers wait unseen in the row of trees below.

Dramatic footage emerged yesterday of the final moments of the helicopter, dubbed the “flying tank” by Russian crews.

As he approaches, defending troops fire a rocket skyward from a frost-covered field about 40 km from the capital Kiev.

The warhead fizzles, leaving a trail of white smoke in its wake. It locks onto its target before the crew can engage their infrared jammers and flare spreaders.

Dramatic footage emerged yesterday of the final moments of a helicopter, dubbed the ‘flying tank’ by Russian air crews, after being hit by Ukrainian soldiers

The invaders receive a brutal and direct blow; the helicopter instantly explodes, sending bright orange flames shooting out of the engine.

The stricken Mi-24 crashes to earth, hitting the ground nose-first, with all of its pilots and navigators fearful of being killed.

Their deaths came on a day when the Russian Air Force lost up to eight aircraft, as well as multi-role, attack and close air support aircraft and a drone.

Their losses, claimed by Ukrainian military sources, provide further evidence of Russia’s failure to gain air superiority – a tactical advantage that Vladimir Putin thought was achieved on the first day of the war.

But, ten days later, the Russian president’s vaunted air force is still ambushed by highly mobile Ukrainian air defense units equipped with the latest shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.

In the incident pictured above, the Ukrainians allegedly used a specialized short-range weapon system, the Polish PPZR Piorun, which is ideal for targeting low-flying helicopters.

The video was reportedly recorded by a drone, with Western sources confirming Kozarovychi’s location in the Kyiv region.

In another remarkable development yesterday, Putin came under pressure from his own soldiers to stop the war. At a press conference in Kyiv, captured Russian troops condemned the mission and called on their fellow citizens to come together against the conflict.

The stricken Mi-24 crashes to earth, hitting the ground nose first, with all of its pilots and navigators fearful of being killed

The stricken Mi-24 crashes to earth, hitting the ground nose first, with all of its pilots and navigators fearful of being killed

Andrey Chuvatarevsky, a soldier who served under contract in the Moscow region, said: “Russians, do everything possible to stop this war. Neither Ukraine nor Russia needs this war. Only Putin needs this war.

“Try to inform the president, keep the military away from the equipment so they don’t drive and bomb the civilian population. If you take to the streets, the president will decide to withdraw the troops. Then there will be no war.

Another captured soldier, Mikhail Kulikov, warned that Ukrainian children were suffering: “Russian people, stand up. Your children are here. The children of the Ukrainian people are also suffering here. There is no need to be afraid.

“The Ukrainian people are not afraid of anyone. They will defend their land to the end. I also have two small children at home, whom I don’t know if I will get. Parents, block the roads, don’t let your children go, do everything to turn back the Russian troops.

The pair were among ten soldiers who spoke at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine yesterday. They had surrendered voluntarily and each noted that they had received good treatment and the opportunity to contact their relatives.

Prisoner Dmitry Gagarin told his relatives and friends in Russia not to listen to Russian propaganda. “I would like all Russian people to hear that not everything here is as they say on Russian television,” he said.

“There are no Nazis. Here are ordinary peaceful people who rallied to one person – Putin, who wanted to be a conqueror.

Footage also emerged yesterday of a Russian pilot wearing a blue jumpsuit and bloodstained t-shirt being treated for a head injury after crashing in a field.

With a bandage around his head, he nodded wearily as Ukrainian troops questioned him.

Ukrainian forces held key towns in central and southeastern Ukraine last night as the Russians attempt to keep Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy surrounded, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

At least 351 civilians have been confirmed dead since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but the true number is likely much higher, the UN human rights office said.

President Zelensky claimed yesterday that 10,000 Russian soldiers had died in the war, a claim that could not be independently verified. “We are inflicting casualties on the occupiers that they could not see in their worst nightmare,” he added.

The Russian military, which does not provide regular casualty updates, said on Wednesday that 498 of its soldiers had died in the conflict. Ukraine’s military might is vastly outmatched by Russia’s, but its military and volunteer forces have fought back with fierce tenacity since the invasion.

Last night a large Russian armored column threatening the Ukrainian capital remained pinned down outside Kiev and heavy fighting erupted northwest of the capital around the key airport of Hostomel.

However, there have also been warnings that the vulnerability of Russian jets could cause Putin’s commanders to rely on artillery to bomb civilian infrastructure. This will likely result in further loss of innocent lives as artillery is less accurate than airstrikes.

Western officials have confirmed that Russia has been forced to resort to indiscriminate air and artillery assaults against densely populated urban areas because its military campaign is floundering.

At a press conference in Kyiv, captured Russian troops condemn the mission and call on their fellow citizens to come together against the conflict

At a press conference in Kyiv, captured Russian troops condemn the mission and call on their fellow citizens to come together against the conflict

An official told the Mail on Sunday: ‘The original plan was a rapid assault on Kiev from the north and a sweep from the south using combined units and arms. But they must resort to shelling zones with massive artillery. The impact will likely result in increased civilian casualties.

Artillery is expected to be the Kremlin’s weapon of choice as it continues to batter the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol. The British Ministry of Defense confirmed that these towns were surrounded by Russian troops.

Evidence has also emerged suggesting Russian jets were shot down near Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. The bombing there was so extensive that local officials have compared it to the bombing of Stalingrad by the German army during World War II.

On Friday, at least 47 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Russian planes fired missiles at high-rise buildings in the city, reducing them to piles of flaming rubble, with residents trapped below.

Yesterday heartbreaking images emerged of men, women and children hiding under a destroyed bridge to escape Russian airstrikes on Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Hundreds of residents took shelter in the darkness under the bridge which had been destroyed by the Russians. They were forced to take refuge there – even though the bridge might collapse – as Russian warplanes circled overhead.

President Zelensky called for the “complete closure of the skies to Russian missiles, planes and helicopters”.

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