Wagner mercenary group shot down seven aircraft and killed 13 aircrew during mutiny

Wagner Group mercenaries shot down seven Russian aircraft and killed 13 airmen during the failed coup attempt, according to Russian military bloggers.

‌Video footage shared widely on social media after the armed rebellion against Moscow on Saturday appeared to show the wreckage of a Russian Air Force Ilyushin-22 in a rural area of southern Russia.

‌The aircraft, most likely to have been used as an airborne command and communications centre, was allegedly shot down by an air defence system deployed by Wagner forces. 

All 10 of its crew were killed in the crash, according to Moscow Calling, a Russian Telegram channel with almost 90,000 followers.

Russia’s defence ministry has not commented on the loss of the aircraft, and the cause of the crash is not independently verifiable.

‌Footage captured of the incident appeared to show the jet hurtling to Earth after being hit with a rocket or missile fired from ground-based forces.‌ Irina Kuksenkova, a correspondent for Russian state-controlled Channel One, said the plane came nowhere near the city of Voronezh.

‌It was reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group, had offered to compensate the dead crew’s relatives to the tune of 50 million roubles (around £466,000).

‌Video also emerged of the wreckage of a Ka-52 helicopter in the Talovsky district of the Voronezh region. Pictures appeared to show a smouldering wreck in a field‌. A Russian blogger said the helicopter had been shot down by Wagner and that its crew had been killed.

Helicopter Mi-8MTPR of the Russian Aerospace Forces, shot down by fighters from the Wagner Group
Helicopter Mi-8MTPR of the Russian Aerospace Forces, shot down by fighters from the Wagner Group

‌A Russian Mi-8MTPR-1, a scarcely-available electronic warfare helicopter, was also reportedly downed by Wagner force near the village of Pavlovsk in the Voronezh region. 

Footage of the apparent crash site showed a plume of thick black smoke rising into the blue skies above the rural area in southern Russia. An aerial image of the scene appeared to show the aircraft flattened on the ground, only its rotors and tail still intact.

‌Two more of the aircraft were said to have been shot down in the Wagner march on Moscow, which ended when Prigozhin brokered a deal to end the situation.

The Wagner forces were reportedly armed with a Strela-10 air defence system, a Soviet-era surface-to-air missile system, reportedly used to engage the Russian helicopters. 

An Mi-8 transport helicopter and Mi-35 gunship were also brought down. The crews of each of the downed helicopters, apart from those aboard the Ka-52 gunship,  walked away, according to Mil Info Live, Russian Telegram channel.

‌Rybar, an authoritative Russian military blogger, said: “For comparison, since the beginning of the counter-offensive, the armed forces of Ukraine have not managed to shoot down a single one of our aircraft.”

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