FSB claims to have thwarted plot to hijack Russian supersonic bomber to Ukraine

The FSB of Russia has alleged that Ukrainian intelligence services planned to hijack a Russian Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber. According to the FSB's Public Relations Center, the plot to steal the long-range strategic bomber operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces was thwarted.

The statement claims that Ukrainian intelligence aimed to recruit a Russian military pilot with monetary compensation and the offer of Italian citizenship, urging him to fly the nuclear-capable aircraft to Ukraine. The report also indicates the involvement of NATO intelligence services in preparing and executing the operation was unveiled by Russian counterintelligence.

"During the operational play, Russian counterintelligence obtained information which aided our Armed Forces in inflicting fire damage on the Ukrainian Armed Forces 'Ozerne' airfield," the FSB's press release stated.

According to Russian counterintelligence, the pilot was promised $3 million for the hijacking. This is evidenced by a photograph of the correspondence with a representative of the Ukrainian intelligence, published by the FSB. In the communication, $1 million was allegedly pledged by the Ukrainian defense holding UkrOboronProm. The FSB also released videos showing stacks of US dollars.

The pilot was approached via "Telegram," yet he resisted the temptation selected by Ukrainian recruiters.

"Neither morals nor ethics," he comments on his recruitment in the FSB video. "They asked me to set aviation equipment on fire. They immediately started with threats against my relatives."

It was also demanded that the pilot provided information about the aircraft: tail numbers, technical condition, and maintenance schedule.

"I went to my command and told them everything," remarked the pilot.

According to him, the interlocutor, who introduced himself as Pavlo, did not hide in the messenger that he was acting on behalf of Ukrainian intelligence.

The Russian pilot disclosed how Kyiv's intelligence pushed him to hijack the Tu-22M3 to Ukraine, "My interlocutor did not even hide that he was from Ukrainian intelligence. He introduced himself as Pavlo. Demanded that I set aviation equipment on fire. Neither morals nor ethics. Immediately started with threats against my close relatives".

Ukrainian military officials have yet to make official comments regarding these statements.

"The Tu-22M3 is a long-range supersonic bomber with variable-sweep wings, designed to engage sea and land targets with guided missiles and aerial bombs, serving as a carrier for nuclear and conventional bombs and missiles," notes the TASS agency.

This is not the first report of its kind from the FSB of Russia. In the summer of 2022, the service claimed to have prevented a similar operation by Ukrainian intelligence. Then, Ukrainian military intelligence officers allegedly "attempted to recruit Russian military pilots with monetary rewards and guarantees of obtaining citizenship of an EU country." According to the "Russia-24" TV channel, Ukrainian intelligence aimed to acquire Su-24, Su-34, and Tu-22M3 supersonic bombers.

As previously reported, in August 2023, Russian military pilot Maxim Kuzminov hijacked a Mi-8 helicopter to Ukraine. The second pilot and the flight engineer on board refused to join Ukraine and were killed, media reported. In October 2023, a "Russia 1" TV channel feature about Kuzminov included individuals claiming to be special forces from the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, who promised that he "would not live to see trial." In February 2024, Kuzminov was found dead in Spain.

  War in Ukraine, Tu-22, Russia