Ukraine says a Russian military helicopter was lured into its borders and the pilot defected to its side after a months long intelligence operation, according to Wednesday reports.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence said the agency deliberately lured the Russian pilot to land his Mi-8 helicopter at a Ukrainian airfield in the Kharkiv region.
“This was a GUR operation. The aircraft moved according to the plan,” spokesperson Andriy Yusov told Reuters.
Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda cited unnamed intelligence sources as saying the special operation lasted more than six months.
Two other crew members who were unaware of the plan were subsequently “liquidated.” The report said the pilot’s family out been taken out of Russia earlier and are currently in Ukraine.
Speaking about the incident on national television, Yusov the GUYR was working with the helicopter crew and that official information would be given soon.
“You will need to wait a bit, work is being conducted, including with the crew. Everything is fine, there will be news,” he said.
The move allows Ukraine to replenish its limited aviation stocks while also potentially getting valuable intelligence on the Russian air force.
Reuters contributed to this report.