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One of the most successful operations of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR), the recruitment of Russian pilot Maksim Kuzminov to defect along with his helicopter, has ended with his unsolved murder. Andriy Yusov, GUR spokesman, told the Kyiv Post yesterday: “We can confirm the fact of death.” Otherwise, Yusov offered no other details.

Today, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin was asked about Kuzminov’s reported death. He stated: “As is customary in Russia, one says only good things or nothing about the deceased. This traitor and criminal had already become a moral corpse from the moment when he plotted his dirty and heinous crime.”

In August 2023, Kuzminov piloted his Russian Mi-8 helicopter to Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, where he received money, new documents, and security guarantees. (Whatever those security guarantees were, they evidently did not do the job.) In a GUR documentary at the time, Kuzminov testified that “there are no fascists or Nazis here…. I do not want to be an accomplice to Russian crimes…. Ukraine will win—it’s only a matter of time.” The documentary explained that the two other crew members on the helicopter chose “not to surrender and lost their lives upon landing.”

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