Ukrainian soldiers claim to have shot down £11m helicopter with £75 launcher

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In more embarrassing news for Vladimir Putin, Ukranian forces appear to have destroyed a £11million Russian Ka-52 helicopter with a rocket launcher worth less than £100.

The incident is said to have occurred in the heavily contested Kharkiv region where the two sides are battling intensely.

According to the Ukrainian military unit Operational Command 'East' the attack happened as Putin’s helicopters flew low over the terrain under cover of darkness.

On the group’s Facebook page, an officer named Yaroslav described the attack.

He said: “At night, enemy helicopters went very low. They circled over our positions, not even allowing us to raise our heads.

“And an anti-aircraft gunner fired two missiles on them. One, however, hit a heat trap, and the other shot down a Ka-53. It fell… It was a pity to spend a ‘Stinger’ on them, so the Russian Ka-52 was hit with the ordinary ‘Igla’.”

The Igla that Yaroslav refers to is code for a cheap Soviet-developed portable surface-to-air missile (SAM) system which reportedly costs just $100 (£75).

Top of the range units can sell for as much as $30,000 (£23,000) however it's thought that Ukrainian forces have been purchasing weaponry at discounted rates during the conflict.

Another post on the page joked: “We joke among ourselves that we shot down a Russian screwdriver approximately $15 million worth of weapons for 100 bucks paid for by the Soviet Union."

Russian forces have begun a massive offensive across the east of Ukraine as the war enters a deadly new phase, according to the Ukrainian president.

Missile blasts and troop movements were witnessed across the Donbas region on Monday, only days after Vladimir Putin withdrew Russian forces from the area around Kyiv to focus on capturing land near the Russian border.

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Volodymr Zelenskyy described the development as the beginning of the "Battle of Donbas" and said the Ukrainian army had been expecting the latest assault.

Striking a defiant tone in the rousing speech, the actor-turned-President claimed he was confident his army could repel the invaders.

He said in a video address: "We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared.

"No matter how many Russian soldiers are driven there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves. We will do it daily. We will not give up anything Ukrainian, and we do not need what’s not ours."

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