A Wagner Group “fool” shot down a prized Russian “special mission aircraft”, giving Ukraine a significant gain.
An Ilyushin Il-22M aircraft was brought down on Saturday during the militia’s march on Moscow, it has now been reported by the British MoD.
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The aircraft was part of a 12-plane fleet that is “heavily used” by the Russians for “command and control, and radio relay tasks”, the MoD said.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the now exiled leader of Wagner, is understood to be furious about his men taking down the plane.
He reportedly told journalists a “fool” in his cadre had shot at “everything that took off”.
A video emerged on social media showing a plane, believed to be the special aircraft, ablaze and hurtling to the ground near the city of Voronezh – one of the stops Wagner made on its rebellious journey to Moscow.
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All ten of the Ilyushin’s occupants were reportedly killed.
The British MoD wrote on Twitter: “As high-value assets they have operated within the safety of Russian airspace, far beyond the range of Ukrainian air defence systems.
“The loss of this aircraft is likely to have a negative impact on Russian air and land operations. In the short term the psychological shock of losing a large number of aircrew in this manner will almost certainly damage morale within the Russian Aerospace Force.”
“There is a possibility that current tasking levels may have to be reduced to safely manage the remaining fleet.
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“This will likely undermine Russia’s ability to command and coordinate its forces, particularly during periods of high tempo operations.”
During Wagner’s mutiny, five military helicopters including Ka-52 gunships, were also shot down.
Prigozhin reportedly offered 50 million rubles to the families of the deceased Ilyushin crew. This claim has not been verified.
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