The Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Directorate has confirmed to press that a Russian pilot has defected with an intact Mi-8. Directorate Head Budanov elaborated that Ukrainian intelligence convinced the pilot to defect not only with his aircraft, but also with parts for the Su-30 and Su-27. The pilot departed his base and flew to two fighter bases where he seized the parts. Then he flew to Ukraine with two other crew members who were not part of the plot. Once the pilot landed, Ukrainian troops were forced to kill the crew members who resisted. Budanov said:
“They were able to find the right approach to the man, were able to create the conditions to get the entire family out of sight, and finally to create the conditions so that he was able to overrun this aircraft with a crew who did not know what was going on. When they realized, where they sat down, they tried to escape. Unfortunately, they were destroyed, I would like to (take) them alive, but we have what we have…And our pilot feels great, everything is fine with him. In the film (which Budanov announced on September 7 – ed.), I think you will see him… He has two options, but he is inclined to be here (in Ukraine – ed.).””
Ukrainian Intelligence also confirmed this is the second instance, and the first successful operation to convince Russian pilots to come over. The first was in the Summer of 2022 in which a Russian fixed-wing pilot refused to defect. The Ukrainians will reportedly release a taped interview with the Russian pilot in September.