Russian pilot who defected with stolen fighter jet spare parts gets $500,000 reward from Ukraine

The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine published a video interview with Maxim Kuzminov, the Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine with a Mi-8 helicopter last month.

Defense Intelligence of Ukraine

Russian pilot who surrendered to Ukraine will receive $500,000 reward from the war-torn country. 
Ukraine passed a law last year offering up to $1 million to Russian soldiers for stolen equipment.
The pilot is now encouraging other soldiers to follow his lead.  

The Russian pilot who defected from his home country will be getting a hefty reward from their sworn enemy.

Maksym Kuzminov, a 28-year-old Russian helicopter pilot, surrendered to Ukraine last month, bringing with him an Mi-8 helicopter and stolen fighter jet spare parts. His arrival in Ukraine marked the end of a 6-month secret defection plot he had worked out with Ukraine, which involved moving his family out of Russia. 

Now, Ukraine is rewarding him with the equivalent of $500,000, Ukraine’s Military Intelligence spokesperson Andrii Yusova said, according to The Kyiv Independent

Ukraine’s Parliament started the “I want to live” initiative in April 2022 encouraging Russian soldiers to surrender and offering them up to $1 million for stolen equipment, EuroMaidan Press reported. Kuzminov is the first known soldier to receive such a reward, the outlet reported. 

“What is happening now is simply genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Kuzminov said in a video released by Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, according to a CNN translation. “The motivation for my action was to not contribute to these crimes. Ukraine will unequivocally win this war simply because the people are very united.”

“The whole world is helping them,” he added, according to CNN. “Because first and foremost, human life should be valued.”

Kuzminov is now encouraging other Russian soldiers to follow his example and abandon Russia’s war. 

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