Defected Russian helicopter pilot to be handed $500,000 reward – report

A Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine will receive the equivalent of $500,000 as a reward, according to a report.

Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda cited comments from military intelligence spokesman Andrii Yusov, who said the pilot, Maksim Kuzminov, will receive the reward in the Ukrainian currency of hryvnia.

“Those Russians who do not want to become war criminals, please give yourselves up, switch to Ukraine’s side,” he was reported as saying.

In a separate post on Telegram, Ukraine’s intelligence department said the 28-year-old pilot is now calling on other Russians to follow his example.

Mr Kuzminov told a news conference in Kyiv of the risky operation which involved flying the Mi-8 helicopter from Russia to Ukraine.

In comments reported by the intelligence department, the pilot said he flew at an “extremely low altitude in radio silence mode”.

“No one knew what was wrong with me. Apparently, no one understood what happened for three to four days. I flew successfully and landed.”

He said Ukraine will “definitely win this war” because its people are “united”.