An IL-76 cargo plane in flight on July 12, 2011. Photo by Leukhin Fedor/Wikimedia Commons.
The Ukrainian government claims their forces have shot down two IL-76 “Candid” fixed-wing strategic airlift jets outside of Kyiv, capable of carrying over 100 paratroopers each. Coffee or Die Magazine cannot verify the claims, and no corroborating photographs or video evidence has surfaced.
Ukrainian officials claim both jets — which are comparable in size and capacity to US C-17s — were carrying loads of paratroopers into combat. If both planes were full, the shootdowns could easily mean the deaths of over 300 Russian soldiers.
— Генеральний штаб ЗСУ (@GeneralStaffUA) February 25, 2022
Russian military forces are currently engaged with Ukrainian military and territorial defense forces in fierce fighting in the outskirts of Kyiv. Russian forces have struggled to hold airports needed for resupply and troop reinforcements. Citizens have been issued rifles and advised to make Molotov cocktails.
“Tonight, they will launch an assault. All of us must understand what awaits us. We must withstand this night,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address posted to social media. “The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”
New @AP reporting tonight: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked to evacuate Kyiv at the behest of the U.S. government but turned down the offer. An American official tells me Zelenskyy said, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” pic.twitter.com/oSpa1vdX29
— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) February 26, 2022
In a Facebook post, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Lt. Gen. Zaluzhny Valery Fedorovich, said “Our forces of the PPO knocked down IL-76 with an enemy paratroopers in the area of Vasilkova. This is revenge for Lugansk 2014.”
The IL-76 aircraft is capable of carrying over 100 paratroopers. The Soviet Air Force began using the first variation of the aircraft in 1974, and it saw heavy use during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Marty Skovlund Jr. was the executive editor of Coffee or Die. As a journalist, Marty has covered the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, embedded with American special operation forces in Afghanistan, and broken stories about the first females to make it through infantry training and Ranger selection. He has also published two books, appeared as a co-host on History Channel’s JFK Declassified, and produced multiple award-winning independent films.