Russian commander ‘used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat’

Former airman Maksim Kuzminov defected from Russia’s armed forces (Shutterstock/EPA)
Former airman Maksim Kuzminov defected from Russia’s armed forces (Shutterstock/EPA)

One of Vladimir Putin's commanders used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat during the war in Ukraine, a defected Russian pilot has claimed.

The cat was airlifted in the military-grade helicopter for around one hour, while another flew alongside it to provide cover during the 114-mile journey, according to former Russian airman Maksim Kuzminov.

Mr Kuzminov spoke out in an interview with The New Voice of Ukraine after choosing to leave Russia’s armed forces.

Asked for examples of any illogical uses of aviation during the war in Ukraine, Mr Kuzminov said: “Our commander needed to transport a cat, which had some impressive pedigree. To do this, two Mi-8 and Mi-24 [helicopter] crews were assigned.

“So, two helicopters transported this wonderful animal, so to speak, from Rostov to Yeysk [air base] — the Mi-8 was flying the cat in, while the Mi-24 was circling to provide cover.

“We burned a lot of fuel, resources. Furthermore, the crews aren’t always allowed to rest.”

The former pilot said six military personnel were on board for the mission despite Russia experiencing a lack of pilots.

Mr Kuzminov, 28, has reportedly been paid £398,000 for defecting and is now urging his former Russian colleagues to follow suit.

“The truth is, there are no Nazis or fascists,” he told the Ukrainian news outlet, to counter the message Mr Putin has used to justify the “special military operation” launched in February last year.


He said he got in touch with representatives of the Ukrainian military intelligence about the possibility of changing sides and he was offered safety as well as the financial reward.

Mr Kuzminov landed his Russian Mi-8 helicopter in Ukraine’s Poltava Oblast on August 23 - giving the chopper to his new bosses as well as spare parts for the aircraft.

“It’s a real disgrace what is happening here,” he said of the war. “Murder, tears, blood.

“People are simply killing each other. That’s all I can make of this and I don’t want to be a part of it. What is going on now is simply the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Both Ukrainian and Russian.”