Posted by BW Actual on Sep 6th 2023



  • Ukraine's military intelligence agency released a video featuring Capt. Maksim Kuzminov, who last month became the first Russian pilot to defect to Ukraine since the war began. A WSJ article pasted below details Kuzminov's bold - and successful - escape plan.
  • Cuba announced criminal proceedings against a "trafficking network" that it claims has been recruiting Cubans living in both Russia and Cuba to fight for Russia in Ukraine. The announcement reiterated that Cuba is "not part of the war in Ukraine" - despite a friendly visit by the Revolutionary Armed Forces Minister to his counterpart in Moscow in July.
  • The UK plans to designate Wagner Group "a threat to global security" and "a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas." That will make it a criminal offense for Britons to join or support Wagner.


  • Chinese carmakers stole the show at IAA Mobility, a major annual auto event in Munich, illustrating the struggles German carmakers have faced in trying to compete with cheaper Chinese cars.
  • Ishmael Kalsakau, the pro-West PM of Vanuatu, was ousted in a no-confidence vote that he claims was orchestrated by China and its supporters. His successor was previously PM (four times, actually) and plans to abandon most of the ties and agreements Kalsakau forged with the West and Australia.
  • Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee announced today that the country would send "a female group sports team comprising a total of 17 phenomenal women athletes" to the Asian Games later this month, raising a small glimmer of hope for Afghan women's rights.
  • However, the Taliban quickly extinguished that faint glimmer with a follow-up statement clarifying that all 133 athletes in the delegation are male.
Other News
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to extend oil production cuts of 1.3 million barrels per day through the end of the year, pushing oil prices to their highest levels in a year. Analysts say their cuts will raise transport costs and ultimately accelerate inflation.
  • The EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service said the last three months have been the warmest ever recorded globally - and July was the hottest month ever on record, at about 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial averages.
Russian Pilot Describes Defection to Ukraine, Urges Others to Follow (WSJ)
Capt. Maksim Kuzminov flies to Ukraine in helicopter with help from Kyiv’s military intelligence service
A Russian military pilot who defected to Ukraine last month said he flew his Mi-8 helicopter low over fields with its transponder off to evade detection, capping an operation planned over months with Ukraine’s military intelligence agency.

In his first public appearance at a news conference in Ukraine, Capt. Maksim Kuzminov said Tuesday that he reached out to the agency, best known by the acronym HUR, late last year after months lamenting the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his part in it.

Kuzminov, a 28-year-old from Russia’s Far East, said he had worked as a transport pilot for the Russian military, moving troops and equipment across Russia and, once the war started, also to occupied territory in Ukraine’s south.

He agreed on a plan with HUR to defect by flying the Mi-8 helicopter at his command through a safe corridor into Ukraine. Two other Russian service members were on board when he set off from Kursk in Russia’s south, and neither knew of his plans, he said.

When he neared his destination near Vovchansk in northeastern Ukraine, he said the men began to panic. They jumped out of the helicopter when it landed and sprinted north toward the border. HUR’s director Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told Ukrainian media that the two men were killed when they attempted to flee.

The successful operation on Aug. 9 was a coup for HUR, the first time a Russian Air Force pilot defected since Moscow launched its war 18 months ago. The agency has compared it to Operation Diamond, a three-year mission by Israel’s Mossad national intelligence agency that ended in August 1966 with the capture of a Soviet-built MiG-21 jet fighter flown by an Iraqi Air Force defector.

HUR sought to capitalize on the audacity of the daytime operation and counter Russian denials by releasing on Sunday a video detailing the flight and elements of the agency’s cooperation with Kuzminov, who said he was seeking a chance to escape.

“When everything started there were tears, suffering, fear and a question: Why does our country need this war?” Kuzminov said of the first days of the war, speaking beside two HUR officials. “I understood that it was a crime and I simply will not take part in it.”

Moscow hasn’t commented on Kuzminov’s defection. Fighterbomber, a Russian military aviation Telegram channel that is connected with the Russian Air Force, said after the release of the HUR film that the story shouldn’t be trusted.

News of Kuzminov’s defection is a boost to Ukraine just as a counteroffensive in the south is starting to make progress after achieving limited gains in three months of fighting against deeply dug-in Russian forces.

Kuzminov, a pilot in Russia’s 319th separate helicopter regiment of army aviation based in the Primorsk region of Russia’s Far East, said he was living a comfortable life with two apartments and a good salary when the war started.

Toward the end of 2022, he wrote to representatives of HUR in an encrypted chat on Telegram, he said, and began discussing with them a plan to steal a Russian military helicopter and land it in Ukraine, which made him eligible for a $500,000 payout, according to Ukrainian wartime laws.

By the summer, they had agreed on a flight route for Aug. 9, and that afternoon he left an air base in Kursk and flew toward Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, with the two other service members on board.

He flew less than 32 feet above the ground to avoid detection, in radio-silence mode, and said he was targeted by gunfire from an unknown direction as he crossed the border.

HUR officials said troops fanned out around the helicopter and took control of it, finding documents relating to Russian military operations and instructions for airplane parts on board.

Kuzminov said he is considering his options and plans to stay for the foreseeable future in Ukraine, where he said he has been given guarantees of safety and the $500,000 he was promised.

His parents are with him in Ukraine, he said, without giving further details.

HUR has said that any Russian service members who defect will receive similar treatment, including financial compensation for Russian equipment they pass on to the Ukrainians.

In the video released by HUR on Sunday, Kuzminov urged others to follow his example.

“There’s so much you don’t understand, and you haven’t seen how other people live,” he said. “When all this opens up before you, your views will fundamentally change.”