The death of a Russian pilot Kuzminov in Spain who defected with his military Mi-8 helicopter in Ukraine last year is surrounded by mystery and riddles, but Spanish authorities have refused to provide details of the investigation.

Who is Maxim Kuzminov and what did he do for Ukraine?

The deceased, 28-year-old Maxim Kuzminov, was the commander of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter, which he flew into Ukraine last August claiming to be opposed to Russian aggression, as part of a successful special operation by Ukraine’s military intelligence service (HUR).

Kuzminov flew from an airbase in Russia's Kursk region to Ukraine at “extremely low altitude, in radio silence” to avoid detection.

The pilot contacted Ukrainian intelligence officials via social media and explained his situation.

“We started a secret correspondence. Ukrainian agents did not impose a decision, it was mine, no one forced me. For about six months, we built routes, thought about how to organize everything better and safer, and on August 9, 2023, everything happened,” the Russian officer said.

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As a reward for the special operation, the pilot received $500,000 from Ukraine, as well as security guarantees for himself and his parents, who were also taken out of Russia. In addition, he received new documents.

What recently happened to Kuzminov?

On the evening of Monday, Feb 19, HUR representative Andriy Yusov confirmed to the Kyiv Post that Maxim Kuzminov had died, but was not able to provide any further details.

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On Monday, a number of Spanish media outlets published information that a Ukrainian citizen had been killed in the municipality of Villajoyosa on Feb 13.

A representative of the Spanish authorities explained the delay in the information to DW as “difficulties related to the study of the case, in particular, with the identification of the victim, who lived in the country with Ukrainian documents issued to a fictitious person.”

A judicial source told AFP that the body found at the entrance to the residential complex held identity documents identifying him as a 33-year-old Ukrainian – Kuzminov was only 28.

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According to Il Corrispondente, the man was shot 12 times, before being driven over by a car. Kuzminov was also allegedly found to be holding €100,000.

However, Spanish authorities have neither confirmed nor denied these reports. The Spanish Guardia Civil, which is in charge of the investigation, told AFP that they were in the process of verifying the man’s identity as his documents were probably false.

According to the HUR sources, Maxim Kuzminov decided to move to Spain after the successful operation.

The source explained that prior to his death, Kuzminov invited his ex-girlfriend to visit, and then he was found shot dead, adding that a burnt-out car which may have been used by Kuzminov's killers was found nearby.

Who probably killed the Russian deserter?

None of the Spanish, Ukrainian, or Russian authorities have commented or provided details on who was behind the pilot's murder while the investigation is ongoing.

However, Russia had previously made threats against the defector. In October 2023, “Rossiya 1” TV channel aired a story where self-identified special forces soldiers from the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces said that Kuzminov “would not live to see trial.”

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A separate television report said that Russian GRU intelligence “had been ordered"” to eliminate Kuzminov. “Of course we will find him, we will reach everyone, our arms are long,” an operator from the GRU said.

“It's only a matter of time,” a journalist on Russia's Channel One said after speaking with Russian special services, who claimed to be hunting for the “traitor.”

The comments made by the Director of Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, about Kuzminov on Tuesday served to underlined the earlier threats: “This traitor and criminal became a moral corpse at the very moment he was planning his dirty and terrible crime.”

On the same day, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it had no information about Kuzminov's death.

Why did not Ukraine save him?

National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Oleksiy Danilov told Ukrayinska Pravda in an interview on Monday that Kyiv had suggested that Kuzminov should stay in Ukraine for his own safety.

“Our country's proposal was for him to stay in Ukraine. He would definitely be protected here. And I don't think they would have been able to run amok here like they did in Spain,” Danilov said.

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However, he added that it was important to wait for the official conclusions of the Spanish investigation into Kuzminov’s murder.

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Comments (3)

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Barruntaranchos
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It was not very intelligent to choose Alicante, with thousands of Russians (many fleeing from Putin), more than Ukrainians, and live in an apartment surrounded by them. If you want to be far from Russia, don´t choose the Spanish coast in the Mediterranean. Calling his ex-girlfriend was the final mistake.

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Bob Boomhauer
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Time for world-wide assassinations of top Russian figures. They need to feel the fear and experience the terror and mayhem that Russki Mir brings to the rest of the world. Kill them all.

Uros
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@Bob Boomhauer, Why you don't that Keyboard warrior?

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John
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I don't see how this former russian pilot's death is the responsibility of Ukraine. Ukraine told him they could only protect him if he stayed in Ukraine. He left, and went to Spain....definitely riskier but not as bad as say Turkey where russians are plentiful. But then he invites his russian 'ex-girlfriend' to visit him when anyone with a brain would know that presented super duper high risk...."EX-girfriend" in case you missed that. Of course she was under russian monitoring, or possibly direct influence.

So stupid is as stupid does. You can't always protect stupid from itself. Heck just look at how the MRGA cult in the USA still clamours for more putinrump dictator in waiting....in the "land of the free" of all places.

At any rate, let's place the blame for this murder directly where it lies....the putin regimes hired thugs.

Russians you have only one way to get out from your thugs evil rule.....and it does not involve voting in March. Good luck.

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