The drone attack that allegedly damaged a Russian A-50 reconnaissance military plane at an airfield near the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 26 was carried out by Belarusian rebels, officials confirmed.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on March 7 that “Ukrainian security forces under the leadership of the CIA are conducting operations against the Republic of Belarus behind closed doors.” Bertha.
“Terrorists were trained,” he added.
Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said one of the suspects, a dual citizen of Russia and Ukraine, was detained along with 20 accomplices. Others are hiding abroad, he said.
He added that aircraft at the Maturishchi Air Base suffered only cosmetic damage in attacks carried out using “small drones.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine rejected that the country was involved in the attack; The CIA has not commented on this allegation.
Lukashenko’s comments were released weeks later by Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of the Belarusian rebel group BYPOL. quoted Reuters said on the organization’s Telegram messaging app that it used drones to damage a sophisticated Russian reconnaissance plane.
BYPOL Claim Liability
“They were drones. The participants in the operation are Belarusians,” Azarov said.
BYPOL, which includes former law enforcement officers who support opposition politicians, was declared an extremist organization by Minsk.
“They are now safe outside the country,” Azarov added of the participants.
Elsewhere on Feb. 26, Franak Viacorka, a senior adviser to Belarusian politician and President Lukashenko’s opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, also confirmed a “successful special operation” on Twitter.
In the first post immediately after the incident, Viacorka Said Noting that the two explosions at the airfield “could be the result of sabotage and diversion”, the airfield is being blocked and “KGB and Secret Service” forces have killed vehicles, employees and residents of the surrounding area. I pointed out that I had checked.
“A Russian A-50 aircraft was blown up in two places,” Biacolka said, along with a photo of the aircraft intact. was reported to have been damaged. [Russia] There are only 9 such planes. ”
In a follow-up post on Twitter soon after, Viacolka said two explosions were confirmed, damaging a Russian military transport plane and a snowplow.
“Maturishchi Military Airfield, 12 km [7.5 miles] It was actively used by the Russian military to carry out airstrikes on Ukraine,” wrote Viakolka.
“Glory to the Belarusian partisans! The partisans of the “Pieramoha” (Victory) program have confirmed the successful special operation of blowing up a rare Russian aircraft at the airfield of Maturishchi near Minsk. This is the most successful diversion since early 2022. ” I have written.
According to Viacorka, two Belarusians carried out the operation using drones.
A-50 aircraft worth millions of dollars
The two Belarusians have left the country and are “safe now,” said Viacorka, adding that the targeted Russian plane was worth €330 million ($348 million).
The Belarusian Hajun Project, which monitors all activities of the Russian and Belarusian Armed Forces in Belarus, also said: statement Preliminary data indicate that the attack targeted a Russian A-50 AEW&C aircraft, which “may have been hit.”
According to Belarus’s Hajun Project, the aircraft may have been damaged by “an unidentified object that fell from a height.”
The Beriev A-50 aircraft, which goes by the mainstay NATO codename, is a Russian airborne early warning aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76MD heavy military transport aircraft that first flew in 1978. military today.
The aircraft’s primary role is to detect, identify and track air targets and warships at sea, and will cost about $330 million and $500 million in “upgraded form.”
Belarus, a close ally of Russia, did not go so far as to directly participate in the invasion of Ukraine, but allowed thousands of troops sent from Moscow with a large amount of military equipment to arrive in Belarus in October. After their arrival, the Russian Air Force began regular patrols over the Belarusian border.
The two countries also conducted joint military exercises in January, which will run until early this month.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus has also been attacked by many Western powers. sanctions They allege the country’s “unprovoked and unjustified involvement in Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”
Reuters contributed to this report.