‘You will be provided with everything you need’: How Ukraine tries to fuel Russian defections

© Aris Messinis, AFP

A rare video aired on Ukrainian television on Sunday allegedly showing a Russian pilot who had defected and encouraging other Russian soldiers to do the same. His dramatic escape allegedly took six months to plan, and was carried out in cooperation with Ukraine’s intelligence services. Whether the video is authentic remains unclear, but one thing is certain: Ukraine is doing everything it can to fuel Russian defections.

A Russian Mi-8 assault helicopter crossed the border into Ukraine on August 23 and landed at the Poltava Air Base in Kharkiv with three people on board: a pilot and two crew members. The latter two were reportedly killed shortly after landing as they were trying to run away.

While a Russian military blogger initially claimed the pilot had lost his way and that the helicopter had wound up in Ukraine by mistake, news reports soon emerged saying the incident was no accident. Instead, it was the Russian pilot’s carefully planned defection, which had taken six months to plan and was carried out in close cooperation with Ukraine’s military intelligence services.

‘A world of colours’

The pilot, identified as 28-year-old Maksim Kuzminov, appeared in a documentary-style video on Ukrainian national television on Sunday, confirming his defection and divulging the details of his escape. His family has also been moved to safety in Ukraine, he said.

Kuzminov encouraged other Russian soldiers to follow suit.

Hard to get through to Russians

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Another Russian mercenary group shows discontent with the Kremlin: ‘A sign of more to come’
Under sirens, threats, Ukraine’s children go back to school
Russia extends the battlefield to its history books