The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry (GUR) carried out an operation that resulted in a Russian Mi-8 helicopter being landed in Ukraine, according to sources in the Ukrainian security services cited by Ukrainska Pravda.
According to the information provided, the operation lasted over six months. The helicopter was transporting spare parts for Russian Su-27 and Su-30 SM fighters, conducting flights between two airbases. Unlike the other two members of the crew, the pilot knew where he was taking his Mi-8 and eventually landed it in the Kharkiv region.
It is reported that as a result of the special operation, two of the pilot's associates were "liquidated". The pilot himself is in Ukraine, where his family was previously evacuated from Russia. Along with the helicopter, the Ukrainian side obtained the spare parts for the fighters that were on board.
A Telegram channel Fighterbomber linked to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) presents a different version of events. According to their information, the Mi-8 went missing about two weeks ago and the crew lost orientation for unknown reasons, causing them to cross the demarcation line. The reasons given are navigation failure or "a radio game" from the Ukrainian side. Upon seeing the Poltava airfield in the Kharkiv region from the air, the crew decided to land there, unaware that they were landing in enemy territory. Russian pilots then attempted to take off again after realizing the mistake but were shot on the spot.
It is claimed that two of them died, while the aircraft commander is likely wounded. The channel's author writes that the commander's relatives are in Russia and are in contact with him. He also draws attention to the fact that photos do not show the cockpit window, which appears to have been shot at.
In July 2022, an investigative journalist from the Bellingcat project revealed an attempt by Ukrainian intelligence services to recruit Russian military pilots in order to hijack the Russian aircraft. However, this attempt failed and "turned into a double game" when Russian FSB agents tried to mislead the Ukrainian side. During the operation, Ukrainian security services were able to expose "the identities of dozens of Russian counterintelligence officers, their methods of work, and undercover agents".