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Russian Strategic Bomber Pilot Offered Cash, Citizenship to Defect to Ukraine

In a statement today, the Russian intelligence agency FSB claimed that a Tu-22M3 bomber pilot was offered cash and citizenship of a European country by the Ukrainian intelligence agency to defect and fly the Russian bomber to Ukraine.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The Russian intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), has thwarted an attempt by Ukrainian intelligence to recruit pilots of the strategic bomber Tupolev Tu-22M3 which is capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

In a statement today, the FSB claimed that the Ukrainian intelligence agency offered the Tu-22M3 bomber pilot cash and citizenship of a European country to defect and fly the bomber to Ukraine.

The Tu-22M3 bomber, referred to as “Backfire,” is considered by its developer, Tupolev, to be a long-range supersonic bomber capable of dropping bombs and launching missiles to destroy targets on land and sea.

The Ukrainian military alleges that the Tu-22M3 bombers are frequently used by Russia to attack Ukraine in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.

The strategic bomber is equipped with KH-22 missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

Russia’s strategic long-range bomber, Tupolev Tu-22M3


“The Russian intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, has successfully foiled an attempt by the Ukrainian intelligence agency to seize a Tu-22M3 strategic bomber belonging to the Russian Air Force,” according to a statement by the FSB via the Interfax news agency.

“The Ukrainian intelligence agency planned to recruit a Russian pilot by offering cash and Italian citizenship to persuade him to fly the bomber and land it in Ukraine.”

The FSB also alleged that the Ukrainian intelligence plot was in collaboration with NATO intelligence agencies in their efforts to execute the plan.

The Russian intelligence agency has also released a video purportedly showing the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber pilot, with his face blurred for security reasons.

 It claims that the Ukrainian intelligence agency contacted the Russian pilot through Telegram and tried to recruit him.

“An unknown individual wrote on Telegram, displaying no morals or ethics, and directly issued threats against my immediate family. They wanted the aircraft destroyed,” the pilot said.



“I informed the command center and recounted everything. The intermediary did not hide that he was from the Ukrainian intelligence agency and identified himself as Pavlo.”

“He offered to hijack the combat aircraft and take it to Ukraine, but not just any combat aircraft, rather a long-range bomber capable of carrying nuclear missiles,” he said.

Ukraine has made several attempts to destroy Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers.

Last August, Russia claimed that Ukraine launched a drone attack on an airbase in the Novgorod region of northern Russia, where Tu-22M3 bombers are stationed.

“A fire was visible in the area where the bombers are stationed but was extinguished. One strategic bomber was damaged, but no one was injured,” according to the Russian Ministry of Defense at the time. 


The Tu-22M3 bomber is the latest upgraded variant, which first flew in 2018.

The original Tu-22 bomber began flying in 1978 during the height of Cold War tensions between the US-led bloc and the Soviet Union. – DSA