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14 June, 2024
 
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Defected Russian pilot found dead in Spain

Maksym Kuzminov, known for daring helicopter defection to Ukraine, discovered shot in southern Spain

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The Russian pilot, Maksym Kuzminov, who gained international attention for defecting to Ukraine with a Mi-8 helicopter in August, was found dead with gunshot wounds in southern Spain last week, as reported by Ukrainian and Spanish media. Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed Kuzminov's death but provided no further details.

According to Russian media, the pilot was discovered in an underground parking lot near Alicante with at least five bullet wounds. Spanish news agency EFE reported that Kuzminov had been living in Spain under an alternative name with a Ukrainian passport.

While Spanish police could not confirm the identity, an unnamed source suggested the victim may have used a fake name. La Informacion, a Spanish newspaper, reported that two suspects fled the scene in a burned vehicle, initially leading authorities to consider gang-related motives.

Kuzminov's defection in August was part of a Ukrainian special operation called "Titmouse," during which his family was relocated to Ukraine before his daring landing at a Ukrainian air base in Kharkiv. The former captain in Russia's 319th separate helicopter regiment had two crew members on board, who, shocked by the destination, were subsequently "eliminated" by Ukrainian military officials.

Publicly identified in September, Kuzminov stated that he defected to avoid contributing to what he described as the "genocide of the Ukrainian people." He brought stolen fighter jet parts with him and, according to Ukrainian officials, was eligible for a $500,000 reward under a Ukrainian law encouraging Russian soldiers to hand over military equipment.

Kuzminov, 28 at the time, also provided valuable Russian aviation intelligence to Ukraine. In a September interview, he urged other Russian soldiers to defect, assuring them of a secure future and employment opportunities in Ukraine.

[Source: Business Insider]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Ukraine  |  Russia  |  defection

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