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Ukraine’s Security Service prevents Russian hijacking of military plane

Russia’s Sukhoy Su-24. Illustrative image from open sources
Ukraine’s Security Service prevents Russian hijacking of military plane
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

The Security Service (SBU) of Ukraine has prevented a planned theft by Russian security services of a Ukrainian military SU-24M reconnaissance plane from Ukrainian territory, reports the SBU press service on its website, September 30.

On September 22, a 44-year-old Ukrainian citizen named “K,” deputy commander of the air reconnaissance squadron that participated in ATO, was arrested. He had been recruited by Russian military intelligence to hijack the plane.

The SBU has determined that the plans of Russian special services were carried out in several stages. The proposal to hijack the plane to the Russian Federation for a financial award was first voiced by the brother of “K,” a Russian citizen and a retired colonel in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, during a visit to Ukraine in June.

Subsequently, according to the plans of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation, the wife and minor daughter of the pilot were detained at the passport control of the Moscow airport during their trip to visit Russian relatives and were forcibly held in hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg for almost three weeks.

During this time the Russian military intelligence officer with the pseudonym “Glavvrach” (head doctor) established contact with “K” and proposed that he hijack the SU-24M aircraft to one of the airports of the Russian Federation in exchange for a position as a colonel in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the continuation of his aviation career, housing in Russia, and the receipt of US $30,000 and other material goods. Concurrently, threats of physical violence were made against members of his family. As a result, “K” was criminally induced to cooperate with Russian intelligence.

To carry out the assignment of the Russian special services, the pilot was supposed to hijack the plane and land it at the airport in Kursk, Russia, while flying combat missions in the ATO zone. “K” was to meet a Russian plane, which was to accompany the stolen aircraft to the landing airport. If he was unable to land the plane at the designated airport due to air defense measures, the pilot was supposed to eject over Russian territory.

During August and September preparations were made for the hijacking. “Glavvrach” kept demanding that the operation be carried out as soon as possible, threatening physical violence against the pilot’s family. The wife and brother of “K” during phone calls from Russia constantly tried to convince him to carry out the act.

Correspondence with the Russian intelligence officer was conducted through email, using encrypted messages.

The SBU counterintelligence discovered the criminal plans in time and prevented their implementation by removing “K” from flight missions.

The Investigative Department of the SBU Administration in the Khmelnytsky Oblast has opened criminal proceedings according to Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (treason). The pilot faces up to 15 years in prison. This would not have happened had the pilot informed Ukrainian special services in time about the attempt to recruit him and had not allowed his family to travel to Russia.

Ukraine’s counterintelligence warns all military personnel of the dangers of provocations by foreign intelligence services and reminds them to be vigilant and remain faithful to their oath to the People of Ukraine.


Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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