Ukrainian Military Official Provides Details on Russian Helicopter Pilot Defection

A top Ukrainian official has revealed new information about a Russian helicopter pilot’s defection to Ukraine. The head of Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, explained how the incident unfolded during an interview with Radio Liberty.

According to Budanov, his team was able to establish a connection with the pilot and create conditions for his entire family to escape undetected. They also ensured that the pilot could take control of the Mi-8 helicopter with the unaware crew members on board. Unfortunately, when the crew realized where they had landed, they attempted to flee and were ultimately eliminated. Budanov expressed a preference for capturing them alive but acknowledged the unfortunate outcome.

The pilot himself is reportedly doing well, and he now has two options regarding his future in Ukraine. Budanov expressed hope that they can replicate this successful defection in the future.

While CNN has not independently verified this event, there have been reports from unofficial Russian Telegram channels suggesting that an Mi-8 helicopter accidentally entered Ukraine and landed in Poltava or Vovchansk near the Russian border. The Russian Telegram channel Voenniy Osvedomitel claimed that the Ukrainian intelligence agency enticed the pilot to cross into Ukrainian territory and alleged that the helicopter carried spare parts for fighter jets.

Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov, who has connections with the Defense Ministry, mentioned that the Mi-8 helicopter is now in Ukrainian possession and will be thoroughly examined before being integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Overall, this incident marks a significant development in the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Defections like this have the potential to provide valuable intelligence and further escalate the conflict.

Sources:
– CNN
– Radio Liberty
– Russian Telegram channels
– Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov