Daring Escape: Russian Pilot’s Defection to Ukraine in a Mi-8 Combat Helicopter

Let’s give it a try,’ recalls Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine in his military helicopter

In a remarkable turn of events, a Russian helicopter pilot, identified as Maxim Kuzminov, made headlines last month when he defected to Ukraine in his Mi-8 combat helicopter. His daring escape story sheds light on the intricate planning and motivations behind his decision. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of this extraordinary event, from the pilot’s initial contact with Ukrainian intelligence to the crucial moment when he touched down on Ukrainian soil.

The Defection Plan: Maxim Kuzminov’s journey to freedom began with a simple yet audacious idea. He reached out to Ukrainian intelligence, explaining his dire situation. In response, they offered him a lifeline: safety, new documents, monetary compensation, and a reward for his defection. With these assurances, the pilot embarked on a mission that would forever change his life.

Securing the Whole Family

One of the most remarkable aspects of this defection operation was the successful extraction of Kuzminov’s entire family, all while keeping it covert. Kyrolo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, revealed that they managed to move Kuzminov’s family out of Russia undetected, ensuring their safety and well-being.

Taking Control of the Aircraft

With his family secure, Kuzminov faced the daunting task of commandeering the Mi-8 helicopter with a crew that was unaware of the true nature of their mission. He, along with two other individuals, flew towards the border, all while maintaining radio silence. Their audacious escape plan was carefully executed, leaving no room for suspicion.

A Nerve-Wracking Descent

As Kuzminov approached the Ukrainian border, the reality of his decision weighed heavily on him. In his own words, he said, “I realized that I was near the border. I relayed my location. I said: ‘Let’s give it a try, I’m not that far away.’ And, having made a final decision, I flew at an extremely low altitude in radio silence mode. No one understood what was going on with me at all.” It was a heart-pounding moment that would determine his fate.

Landing on Ukrainian Soil

Against all odds, Kuzminov successfully landed in Ukraine, where he was warmly received by Ukrainian officials. The pilot’s escape was a testament to his determination and the meticulous planning of those who aided him.

Challenges and Controversies: While the circumstances of the interview with Kuzminov remain unclear, his candid revelations shed light on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He vehemently denied Russian propaganda that painted Ukrainians as Nazis or fascists, describing the situation as a “genocide of the Ukrainian people.” He emphasized the unity of the Ukrainian people and the international support they were receiving in their struggle for peace.

A Plea to Fellow Russians

Kuzminov, now a symbol of courage and hope, called on his fellow Russian military personnel to consider defecting to Ukraine. He assured them of a future filled with opportunities and a chance to discover a different world.


The daring escape of Maxim Kuzminov in his Mi-8 combat helicopter serves as a compelling reminder of the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity. His story is a testament to the enduring hope for peace and the lengths to which individuals will go to stand against violence and oppression.

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