Russian pilot who hijacked a Russian military helicopter and transported it to Ukraine reportedly found shot dead in Spain

Maxim Kuzminov, the Russian pilot who hijacked a military helicopter, has been found dead in Spain, said Andriy Yusov, an official representative of Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR). However, he shared no further details.

The news about his murder was published by TASS on February 19, citing certain Spanish media sources. In reality, there were no such reports in the Spanish media, and the news originated from the Telegram channel Eureka News - a channel run by Russian blogger and former Russian Ministry of Defence employee Mikhail Zvinchuk, creator of the Rybar Telegram channel. Additionally,, where Kuzminov was called a "traitor" in the news text, published the message with a reference to their Telegram channel La JIRAFA, entirely devoted to anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Italian news outlet Il Corrispondente published an article without citing a source, asserting that Maxim Kuzminov was killed on February 13 in the town of Villajoyosa in Spain's Alicante province. The article mentioned that Spanish media, including ABC, had previously reported the pilot's death, even linking to their publication. However, the ABC article referenced was about the investigation into the murder of a 33-year-old Ukrainian national. Confusion also arises with the deceased's age, as Informacion news website reported the shooting of a 33-year-old Ukrainian citizen in Villajoyosa, Alicante, while Kuzminov was 28 years old.

In 2023, Russian pilot Maxim Kuzminov, under the guidance of Ukrainian intelligence, hijacked a Mi-8 helicopter and landed it on Ukrainian territory, after which he surrendered to Ukraine's authorities. During the operation, two other crew members—a flight technician named Nikita and a navigator named Khurshed—were killed. The head of Ukraine's GUR, Kyrylo Budanov, claimed they were killed trying to escape. The Russian FSB opened a criminal case against Kuzminov.

In October last year, several unidentified military individuals on the Russian government channel "Russia 1" claimed on-camera that they had been given orders to kill Kuzminov. The Russian TV channel aired footage of several interviews that Kuzminov gave to Ukrainian journalists, with Russian war correspondent Sergey Zenin calling him a "traitor to the Motherland." According to the version presented in the segment, Kuzminov allegedly personally killed the two crew members whom he had deceitfully lured into Ukrainian territory. A Russian anonymous expert claimed that each of the returned bodies bore a single gunshot wound.

"Traitor Kuzminov will not be forgiven. As the counterintelligence representative said, his crime has no statute of limitations. All the pilots currently fighting in the Special Military Operation zone dream of avenging the death of their combat comrades. And to do so before the Ukrainian special services lose interest in the traitor Kuzminov and dispose of him themselves," Zenin said. The segment's author goes on to report that the Russian GRU special forces had already received the order, with masked individuals stating they would certainly find the pilot and that "he won't live to see a trial."

  War in Ukraine, Kuzminov, Spain, Russia