Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine in Mi-8 helicopter shot dead in Spain 

Maxim Kuzminov Russian pilot
Defence Intelligence Ukraine

A Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine when he landed a Mi-8 helicopter on Ukranian territory has been found dead in Spain, according to military intelligence in Kyiv.  

According to Spanish media, Maksim Kuzminov died after sustaining gunshot wounds in Villajoyosa in Alicante where he lived following his highly publicized defection in 2023.  

“He [Kuzminov] decided to move to Spain instead of staying here [in Ukraine – ed. note]. From what we know, he invited his ex to his place and was later found shot dead,” a source told Ukrainska Pravda. 

It is understood that Kuzminov was killed by an unknown gunman who fired 12 shots, with reports that a burnt-out car was found following the incident in nearby El Campello. 

According to La Informacion, the Spanish police are looking for two people that fled in the destroyed vehicle. 

It has been claimed that Kuzminov’s body was found on February 13, 2024, in a car park below an apartment building. 

Yura Taratunin /

Spanish police did not release the name of the victim but suggested he may have been living in Alicante under a new identity.  

While the Main Intelligence Directorate Andriy Yusov confirmed the death of Kuzminov, he did not specify how he was killed.  

Kuzminov defected to Ukraine in August 2023, with the help of the Ukrainian military intelligence service (GUR).  

The plan was reportedly constructed over a six-month period in which Kuzminov’s family were also secretly moved to Ukraine.  

On August 23, 2024, the Russian pilot rerouted his Mi-8 AMTSh assault transport helicopter during a logistical flight between two airbases, transporting parts intended for Su-27 and Su-30SM fighter jets.   

“I contacted representatives of the Ukrainian intelligence service, explained my situation. I was offered security guarantees, new documents, monetary compensation, remuneration. We discussed the details and started planning my flight,” the 28-year-old Russian pilot said following the operation.  

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