Military intelligence denies Russia's claim that Ukrainian pilot defected

Ukraine's military intelligence on Nov. 18 dismissed Russia's claims that a Ukrainian military pilot fled to Russia with his aircraft.

Earlier the same day, Russian state-run news agency TASS claimed that a Ukrainian Ka-52 helicopter pilot named Oleksiy Voyevoda supposedly flew over into Russian territory.

In response, Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov said that Russia created this propaganda to control for reputational damage that resulted from "mass surrender and defection by Russian occupiers, including officers and pilots with vehicles."

In September, Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov flew a Russian Mi-8 helicopter into Ukraine and surrendered it and himself to Ukrainian forces that coordinated the operation with him. Kuzminov's family had been covertly moved out of Russia before his own escape. He was awarded $500,000 bounty by the Ukrainian government.

After Kuzminov's defection went public, Ukrainian intelligence officials claimed they recorded a surge of Russian offers to surrender through the dedicated hotline.

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