Ukraine probes failed plot to recruit Russian military pilots

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The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is investigating the circumstances that led to a missile attack on the Kanatove airfield on July 23, 2022.  

The incident was allegedly provoked by a foiled plan to recruit pilots and their aircraft from the Russian Aerospace Forces. Ukrainian servicemen organized the scheme without the approval of the SBU, the agency asserts.  

In late July 2022, Russian media outlets released details of the plot, alleging that Ukrainian special service employees offered Russian pilots up to $2 million, as well as guarantees that their families would be given citizenship in one of the Baltic states.  

“During this ‘operation’, which was carried out despite the SBU’s remarks and without coordination with the relevant state authorities, the enemy received information about the placement of the personnel of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Ukrainian aircraft,” the SBU explained in a statement. “These data made it possible for the Russian Air Force to attack the Kanatove airfield in the Kirovohrad region.” 

The reserve airfield of Kanatove, in central Ukraine, was housing a squadron of Su-27 fighter aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force at the time of the attack. The strikes caused the death of the military unit commander and injuries to 17 Ukrainian soldiers. Two Su-27 fighters were destroyed and the infrastructure of the air base was damaged.  

“The SBU has opened criminal proceedings under Part 2 of Art. 111 (treason) and Part 5 of Art. 426-1 (exceeding authority or official powers by a military official) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine,” the agency concluded. 

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