- Russian authorities found out through social media that someone set fire to a military jet.
- Videos of the burning aircraft in Siberia emerged on pro-Ukrainian channels on Monday.
- Local security forces later found the scorched plane on the tarmac at an aviation plant.
An unknown saboteur broke into a Russian airfield and set fire to a supersonic jet, and the local authorities didn’t know it happened until they found out on social media, per reports from independent Russian media.
Footage of the burning aircraft emerged on Monday on the Telegram channel for the Freedom of Russia Legion, a Ukrainian organization that consists of military defectors from Russia and Belarus.
The damaged jet, a Su-24 model, was stationed near the town of Novosibirsk, Siberia, according to the Telegram post. Novosibirsk is some 2,000 miles east of the frontline in Ukraine.
The post said the bomber jet was slated for repairs, and blamed “unknown partisans” for the attack.
Ukrainian government advisor Anton Geraschenko tweeted the video on Tuesday as well.
Local police then discovered the video online, reported the independent Russian media outlet Baza.
When security forces visited the Novosibirsk Aviation Plant, they found a burnt “1990 Su-24 with signs of arson” on the tarmac, per Baza. In order to access the “mothballed” plane, the arsonists had broken through the aviation plant’s “chain-link mesh” fencing, the outlet added.
But it reported that despite the Freedom of Russia Legion’s claims that the Su-24 was “completely destroyed,” the aircraft was “not particularly damaged.”
Instead, traces of flammable liquid were found on the chassis of the plane, according to Baza. Insider could not independently verify this report.
It’s unclear whether this aircraft was in service at the time of the arson attack. The Su-24 is still actively used by the Russian air force but was introduced in the 1970s and is being replaced by the newer Su-34.
A reconnaissance version of the Su-24, fitted with cameras and sensors instead of weapons, was used extensively by Russia to scout Ukrainian air defenses before the war began.
The Freedom of Russia Legion reported a similar arson attack in March, posting a 14-second clip of a Su-27 burning in the eastern region of Primorsky Krai.
Russian authorities categorized the Freedom of Russia Legion as a terrorist group on March 16. Soon after, Moscow prosecuted around 20 Russians for attempting to join the organization, per state media outlet Tass.
The latest report of the arson attempt comes as Russia celebrated Victory Day on May 9, a public holiday that typically features grand military parades commemorating its World War II victory over Nazi Germany.
This year, however, the event was uncharacteristically scaled back amid reports that the war in Ukraine has depleted much of Russia’s military equipment. Only one tank appeared, and no aircraft showed up.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.