The Russian air force had one of its worst days of the war with Ukraine and lost four aircraft but it’s not clear who shot them down. An Su-35, Su-34 and two Mi-8 helicopters were destroyed within minutes of one another in the same general area of Russian territory bordering northeastern Ukraine. They were apparently all on the same strike mission against Ukraine and the ability to carry out that kind of defensive strike would have been a stunning victory for Ukraine forces. But the Ukrainians claim they didn’t do it.

Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukraine air force, said in a TV interview Ukraine wasn’t responsible and joked that the Russians themselves might have done it. He later retracted that hypothesis but now the head of Russian mercenary Wagner Group has revived that theory. “Four planes—if you draw a circle in the places of their fall, it turns out that this circle has a diameter (and all of them lie exactly in a circle) of 40 kilometers (25 miles). … Now go on the Internet and see what kind of air defense weapon could be in the center of this circle, and then build your own versions,” Prigozhin said on Telegram. Russia says it’s looking for “saboteurs” on the ground in the area where the aircraft went down.

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