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Military intelligence: Calls from Russia to surrender hotline rise 70% after helicopter pilot defected

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 11, 2023 3:02 PM 2 min read
Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov, journalist Artem Shevchenko and defected Russian helicopter pilot Maksim Kuzminov (L to R) are pictured during a press conference on Sept. 5, 2023. (Kirill Chubotin / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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After news broke that a Russian helicopter pilot defected to Ukraine, calls to a hotline set up for Russian soldiers wanting to surrender to Ukraine's military increased by 70% in one day, Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov said on Sept. 11.

Launched in September 2022 by Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence, the 24-hour hotline, which is called 'I Want to Live' in Russian, helps Russians to surrender themselves or their units to the Ukrainian military.

Ukraine promises Russian military personnel that they will be held in compliance with the Geneva Conventions after surrender.

Maksim Kuzminov, 28-year-old Russian helicopter pilot, landed his Mi-8 helicopter at an airfield in Ukraine to give himself up to the authorities, Ukrainian media reported on Aug. 23.

He spoke at a press conference on the operation on Sept. 5 and explained that he defected because he "did not want to contribute" to the crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, which he believes is a "wonderful country."

He said that he contacted the Ukrainian side on his own initiative, and was told he would receive security for himself and his family, payments, and new documents from Ukraine if he defected.

Kuzminov said that his parents supported his plans to defect and have joined him in Ukraine.

On Sept. 5, the HUR announced he would receive the hryvnia equivalent of $500,000 (approximately Hr 18.48 million) as a reward. Ukraine's parliament passed a law in April 2022 offering up to $1 million to Russian military personnel who manage to transfer equipment to Ukraine, depending on the type of equipment they hand over.

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