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18 Nov, 2023 18:51

Ukrainian military pilot defects to Russia – media

The pilot is already on Russian territory and is being interviewed by the security services, the TASS news agency says
Ukrainian military pilot defects to Russia – media

A military pilot from the Armed Forces of Ukraine has defected to Russia, TASS reported on Saturday, citing a person who allegedly organized the pilot’s flight over the frontlines. The Ukrainian is an active-duty serviceman who held the rank of “senior officer” with Kiev’s forces, a Russian Telegram channel following the situation has claimed.

“The Ukrainian armed forces pilot is currently in Russia and is being interviewed by the Federal Security Service,” a Russian military strike helicopter pilot, identified by TASS as Aleksey Voevoda, told the agency. Russians were reportedly behind the operation.

Voevoda declined to reveal any details about the operation, adding that he could not share them now. Some Russian Telegram channels have claimed that an interview with the Ukrainian pilot might be published soon. His identity and rank remain unclear. According to Voevoda, the pilot was a flight commander in Ukraine.

In addition, he had reportedly been helping Russian forces since the outbreak of fighting between Moscow and Kiev, according to a claim by the deputy information minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Daniil Beznosov. “The Ukrainian pilot had come down to our side from the very beginning of the special military operation and was helping us with information and in other ways,” the official wrote in a Telegram post.

The development comes amid the largely stalled Ukrainian counteroffensive. The operation, launched by Kiev in early June, has failed to bring about any meaningful changes to the frontlines. On the contrary, it has also led to heavy losses in personnel and material on the Ukrainian side.

In late October, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russian troops had “taken down 24 planes in five days.” Earlier the same month, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed estimates that Kiev lost over 90,000 soldiers in its counteroffensive. According to Putin, the Ukrainian military also lost 557 tanks and almost 1,900 armored vehicles over the same period.

In early November, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, told The Economist that the conflict between the two neighbors had reached a World War I-style stalemate, in which Russia had an edge due to superior personnel reserves and greater resources.

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