"Stinger" at the exit from the attack, an explosion in the air and … That's it. "Russian public discuss the death of the pilot-general

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Kanamat Botashev

In the sky over Ukraine, retired Major General of the Russian Air Force Kanamat Botashev was shot down and killed. Information about the death of the pilot was confirmed to the BBC by three former subordinates of Botashev, who kept in touch with him after the end of the service. They requested anonymity for personal security reasons.

Botashev is the highest-ranking pilot whose death became known . Prior to his retirement, he was the commander of an aviation regiment. The participation of such a high-ranking officer in air battles can speak both of how difficult tasks Moscow sets for military pilots, and of the lack of highly qualified specialists.

On Sunday, May 22, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft was shot down in the sky over the Luhansk region. The pilot did not have time to eject, the report said.

One of Botashev’s former colleagues confirmed to the BBC that in Ukraine, the retired general carried out assignments on the Su-25.

“Today Kanamat died! Popasnaya district, 8:25 … The first call of the NAR-s (unguided aircraft missiles – BBC ), the second – bombs … Stinger at the exit from the attack, an explosion in the air and … That’s it,” the participant said discussions in one of the Russian telegram channels.

The admin deleted this comment, but other members continued the discussion using the initials C.H.B.

“Farewell, commander… There are few people on this planet who lived in the sky as much as you do. The sky takes the best, today it took you,” wrote Fighterbomber , an authoritative telegram channel in the circles of Russian military pilots.

Based on open sources , the BBC is aware of the death in Ukraine of at least 31 Russian military pilots. These are sensitive losses for the air force, although the real numbers may be higher.

Botashev was a sniper pilot. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the training of such a pilot takes 10-12 years and costs about $8 million.

On Russian military forums, one can come across statements that the status of a sniper pilot is not so much an indicator of skill as a tribute to merit, and that more often it is given not to those who shoot accurately, but to those who have more stars on shoulder straps.

Who is General Botashev?

Kanamat Botashev was born in 1959 in Karachay-Cherkessia, graduated from the Yeysk Higher Military Aviation Institute and qualified as a fighter-bomber. He rose from lieutenant to general.

Botashev commanded a regiment of the Guards Air Base in Voronezh. His military career was cut short in June 2012 when he was accused of crashing a Su-27 fighter near Petrozavodsk. As Novaya Gazeta wrote , the general asked his friend, the colonel, to give him a ride on the Su-27, on which he did not have permission to fly.

They took off on a spark, in flight Botashev decided to perform aerobatics, but lost control. Front-line fighter fell into a tailspin and crashed, the pilots ejected.

“I just wanted to fly a fighter of this kind, but I didn’t take into account that such an aircraft has its own characteristics,” Botashev explained at the trial.

image copyrightVladimir Larionov/ITAR-TASS

photo caption,

Kanamat Botashev in court. year 2013

At the same time, it turned out that Botashev already had a similar official violation – in 2011, without permission, he flew the Su-34 aircraft.

As a result, Botashev was found guilty of the plane crash and sentenced to four years probation and a fine of 5 million rubles.

After the trial, Botashev retired from the armed forces and worked as deputy chairman of the DOSAAF of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region for aviation. At the time of this publication, Botashev was still mentioned in the section of the DOSAAF manual of the region and on the page of the aviation cadet class “Baltic Wings”.

The BBC sent a request to the Russian Ministry of Defense with a request to comment on the information about the possible death of Botashev and is awaiting a response.

Trouble in the sky

How the 63-year-old retired general ended up piloting a Su-25 in Ukraine is unclear. Former subordinates of Botashev suggested that he “simply could not stay away.”

Since the beginning of March, Russian military registration and enlistment offices, patriotic organizations and PMC Wagner have been actively campaigning to attract people to be sent to Ukraine. According to open sources, the BBC found that at least nine retired Russian soldiers over 50 years old died in Ukraine. One of them, retired airborne major Valery Statilko, like Botashev, was over 60.

image copyrightAnadolu Agency via Getty Images

photo caption,

Approximately such a Su-25 was shot down in the sky over Ukraine

According to the General Staff of Ukraine, the SU-25 was shot down near the town of Popasnaya. It is in this area that the most fierce battles are now taking place, since the Russian army, on the one hand, is trying to advance towards Kramatorsk, and on the other hand, to reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk region and surround the Ukrainian troops.

According to British intelligence, the Russian offensive is stalling. One of the reasons for this is the lack of dominance of Russian aviation in the sky. Despite the fact that in the first weeks of the war the Russian army launched massive strikes against Ukrainian military facilities, Ukraine withstood the onslaught and is actively using both long-range air defense systems and MANPADS.

According to the General Staff of Ukraine, since February 24, 204 Russian military aircraft have already been shot down. The Russian Ministry of Defense does not comment on these figures and has not updated information on its losses since the end of March.

If you would like to share information about the dead, please contact us using this form.

From open sources it is known about the death in Ukraine of at least two active generals of the Russian army. Russia has confirmed the deaths of Major Generals Andrei Sukhovetsky and Vladimir Frolov.

The Ukrainian authorities reported the death of seven more Russian generals, but at least two of them – Magomed Tushaev and Andrey Mordvichev – turned out to be alive, periodically appear on video recordings and continue to participate in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine.

image copyrightAlamy

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