A Russian general was reportedly killed by Ukrainian forces, making him the highest-ranking fighter pilot to die in the war in Ukraine.
Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, died as the 13th general in Ukraine when he was hit by a Stinger missile while flying over the Luhansk region on Sunday, sources told BBC Russia.
BBC Russia reported that Botashev had previously retired and had not flown an airplane in a decade.
It was unclear why he was back in the cockpit of a Russian Su-25 jet, one of Russia’s most advanced fighter jets.
“There are few people on this planet who have lived in heaven like you. Heaven takes the best, today it took you,” reportedly read a memorial posted on a Telegram channel favored by Russian pilots.
Ukrainian officials announced the downing of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet along with a picture of debris.
A colleague of the fallen pilot told the BBC Botashev felt obliged to take up arms against Ukraine and said he probably “just can’t stay on the fringes”.
Former colleagues told the outlet that his hiring indicated Russia was starving for qualified pilots.
In addition to the more than a dozen Russian generals killed, more than 40 colonels are reported to have died in the increasingly bloody conflict.
Russian officials have yet to confirm or comment on Botashev’s reported death.
The elimination of senior Russian officers, military experts claim, lowers morale and bolsters the Ukrainian war effort.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/24/russia-loses-highest-ranking-fighter-pilot-yet-in-ukraine-war/ Russia loses its highest-ranking fighter pilot in the Ukraine war