Tuesday 24 May 2022 07:55 PM Russia loses its highest-ranking pilot yet in Ukraine as former Air Force ... trends now

Tuesday 24 May 2022 07:55 PM Russia loses its highest-ranking pilot yet in Ukraine as former Air Force ... trends now
Tuesday 24 May 2022 07:55 PM Russia loses its highest-ranking pilot yet in Ukraine as former Air Force ... trends now

Tuesday 24 May 2022 07:55 PM Russia loses its highest-ranking pilot yet in Ukraine as former Air Force ... trends now

A Russian Air Force Major General has been shot out of the sky above the Luhansk region, marking the latest in a long line of high-profile military losses sustained by Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, was enjoying retirement when Russian tanks rolled across the border on February 24 and had not flown since 2012.

His Su-25 fighter jet was hit by a Stinger missile at around 8:25am on Sunday morning in the Donbas skies, and he was unable to eject.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported an Su-25 had been downed in Luhansk, and one of Botashev's former colleagues confirmed his death to BBC Russian Service.

It is unclear why a retired general - the highest-ranking pilot to have been shot down in the war - was at the controls of a fighter jet worth £9million.

Botashev's former colleague told the BBC that 'he simply could not stay away' when offered a chance to fly, but the loss of such a high-ranking, elderly general suggests the Russian air force does not have enough pilots capable of conducting sorties over Ukraine.  

The retiree is the 10th Russian general believed to have died already in Ukraine, while more than 40 colonels have been killed in bloody fighting. 

The Land Forces of Ukraine meanwhile declared in its latest count on Friday that 204 Russian planes have been destroyed over Ukrainian skies. 

Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, was enjoying retirement when Russian tanks rolled across the border on February 24 and had not flown since 2012. His Su-25 fighter jet was hit by a Stinger missile at around 8:25am on Sunday morning in the Donbas skies, and he was unable to eject

Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, was enjoying retirement when Russian tanks rolled across the border on February 24 and had not flown since 2012. His Su-25 fighter jet was hit by a Stinger missile at around 8:25am on Sunday morning in the Donbas skies, and he was unable to eject

The Land Forces of Ukraine meanwhile declared in its latest count on Friday that 204 Russian planes have been destroyed over Ukrainian skies (wreckage of a Su-25 fighter, the same class of aircraft piloted by Botashev, is pictured in Kyiv region)

The Land Forces of Ukraine meanwhile declared in its latest count on Friday that 204 Russian planes have been destroyed over Ukrainian skies (wreckage of a Su-25 fighter, the same class of aircraft piloted by Botashev, is pictured in Kyiv region)

One post reported the general's death and described how his plane was first damaged by a missile, but was then blasted out of the sky by a Stinger (Ukrainian Army soldier places a U.S.-made Stinger surface to air missile in a fighting position on the frontline on May 20, 2022 in Kharkiv Oblast)

One post reported the general's death and described how his plane was first damaged by a missile, but was then blasted out of the sky by a Stinger (Ukrainian Army soldier places a U.S.-made Stinger surface to air missile in a fighting position on the frontline on May 20, 2022 in Kharkiv Oblast)

News of Botashev's death broke yesterday on several pro-war Telegram channels, but many of the posts were removed by administrators.

One post reported the general's death and described how his plane was first damaged by a missile, but was then blasted out of the sky by a Stinger.

'Kanamat died today! Popasnaya district, 8:25... first the plane was hit (by a missile), secondly, bombs - Stinger, at the exit of the attack.

'There was an explosion in the air and... That's it.'

One user posted a tribute to the slain general in Russian Telegram channel Fighterbomber - a prominent channel popular in the aviation community with more than 110,000 subscribers - but this was also removed. 

'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,' the post read, according to the BBC.

Though Russia's network of private Telegram channels are not controlled by Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor, information suggesting Putin's war effort is faltering is often restricted or removed by pro-Kremlin administrators.  

Russian losses in Ukraine over the first three months are likely to have already surpassed those of the Soviet-Afghan war, according to the latest intelligence update from Britain's Ministry of Defence.

The Soviet Union lost

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