Ukraine is offering rewards to Russian soldiers who change sides and fight against the invading forces.
Local news outlet The Kyiv Independent reported on Wednesday that the country’s military gave half a million dollars to a 28-year-old Russian pilot who recently defected to Ukraine.
The soldier, Maxim Kuzminov, switched sides while taking one of Moscow’s Mi-8 helicopters loaded with spare parts for Russian fighter jets.
⚡️Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine to receive $500,000 reward.
Maksim Kuzminov, a Russian helicopter pilot who has defected to Ukraine, will receive the hryvnia equivalent of $500,000 (approximately Hr 18 million), Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii…
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) September 5, 2023
According to Kyiv military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov, the reward is expected to entice other Russian military personnel to follow suit and fight for the war-torn nation.
“Once again, those Russians who don’t want to become war criminals, please, surrender, defect to the Ukrainian side, and defend your own honor and conscience, fight against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s regime,” he said.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, Kyiv has an official list of rewards for defecting Russian soldiers based on the equipment they bring.
For aircraft, the reward could reach $500,000, while $100,000 awaits those who surrender Russian tanks.
‘More to Come’
Ukraine’s intelligence service said it began persuading the pilot during a special operation in August.
The plan was to fly the aircraft into Ukrainian territory and land in the eastern region of Kharkiv, where Ukrainian special forces were waiting.
The pilot’s family was also told beforehand to flee and reside in Ukraine to avoid being penalized in Russia.
The helicopter had two other Russian crew, who had no idea of the defection plot. They were reportedly killed by Ukrainian troops after refusing to surrender.
According to Yusov, there are soldiers in Russia who make “principled ideological decisions” and stand on the side of good.
“A new page is being turned…” he said. “This is just the beginning, there is more to come.”