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Ukraine pays USD 500,000 to Russian pilot who surrendered with Mi-8 helicopter

Kuzminov
Russian helicopter pilot, Maksim Kuzminov, during his press conference in Ukraine. Credit: Ukrayina-Ukrinform.

The Russian pilot, 28-year-old Maksim Kuzminov, who landed the Russian Mi-8 helicopter in Ukraine and surrendered, will receive a reward of $500,000, the representative of Ukraine’s intelligence, Andrii Yusov, said.

Official legislation, a corresponding law signed by the President of Ukraine in April 2022, stipulates appropriate compensation if a Russian military goes over to the side of Ukraine with equipment.

Ukrainian intelligence urges Russians to follow suit, stop participating in the Russian illegal invasion of Ukraine, surrender with Russian military equipment, and get a reward and security guarantees.

“Ukraine is a democratic state governed by the rule of law, and we fulfill our obligations and comply with international law. Therefore, once again, those Russians who do not want to become war criminals, please surrender and go over to the Ukrainian side,” Andrii Yusov said during Ukraine’s national telethon.

On 23 August 2023, a Russian Armed Forces Mi-8 helicopter landed in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast as a result of a long-running special operation by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The Russian pilot, Maksim Kuzminov, conducted a flight between two Russian air bases and transported the spare parts of Su-27 and Su-30SM fighter jets.

Kuzminov decided to cooperate with Ukrainian intelligence during the last six months. His family was taken out of Russia in advance before his defection. The Mi-8 remains in Ukraine along with the parts for fighter jets that it was supposed to deliver to the Russian airbase.

In 2022, Ukraine created the ‘I want to live’ project to inform Russian military personnel about safe ways to surrender and avoid being killed on the battlefield. Every Russian soldier can surrender along with Russian military equipment and be rewarded by the Ukrainian government. Maksim Kuzminov is the first Russian soldier to get such a reward.

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