Pro-Ukrainian pilots flew a drone they bought from a typical consumer store onto a $328 million Russian spy plane that was later destroyed.
Remarkable footage shows the drone casually arriving at Machulishchy air base near Minsk, Belarus, and landing on the Beriev A-50 spy plane that’s equipped with a special radar attached to the fuselage.
The flight was reportedly carried out by Belarusian anti-government activists, although it’s unclear whether the shop-bought drone was carrying explosives or if it was used to target the plane for a subsequent attack.
“Glory to Belarusian partisans,” writes Franak Viacorka, an adviser to Belaurisan’s opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. “Partisans from the “Pieramoha” (Victory) plan confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a rare Russian plane at the airfield in Machulishchy near Minsk. This is the most successful diversion since the beginning of 2022.”
GLORY TO BELARUSIAN PARTISANS!
Partisans from the "Pieramoha" (Victory) plan confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a rare Russian plane at the airfield in Machulishchy near Minsk. This is the most successful diversion since the beginning of 2022. pic.twitter.com/4Q6UmmvylT
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) February 26, 2023
Viacorka went on to claim that the two Belarusians who conducted the operation using the simple drones have left the country and are now safe from reprisal.
“Two days have passed. No reaction from Lukashenka. No reaction from Russia. But the wave of arrests all over the country,” writes Viacorka. “People are thoroughly checked on borders. Russia lost perhaps the most valuable aircraft, which costs half of the Russian cruiser Moskva, sunk by Ukrainians.”
People were quick to mock Russia’s apparent lack of care surrounding its equipment security. Reuters reports that the Beriev A-50 aircraft is an airborne early warning aircraft with command and control capabilities. It has the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.
“God, what a swamp and how carelessly the planes are stored,” writes one Ukrainian. “This is an awesome blow below the belt to the entire security system,” chimes another.
The drone attack is not yet independently verified, as neither Russia nor Belarus has confirmed the incident. But local reports on the ground suggest that the area surrounding Machulishchy air base is awash with police and security services.
“Half of Machulishchy is cordoned off. Lots of soldiers everywhere. We saw five military vehicles with machine guns. They are stopping all cars and minibusses there, checking bags and car boots,” one local resident wrote on Telegram.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko allowed Putin and Russia to launch its invasion of Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
Ukraine has expressed fears that Belarus will enter the conflict with several Russian warplanes deployed to Belarus.