Russian Defector Found Dead in Spain

( – Spanish police say a dead body found on February 15th with gunshot wounds in the town of La Cala is likely a Russian defector named Maksim Kuzminov who fled the Russian army and landed a helicopter in Ukraine where he turned himself in.

Reports from Ukraine agree. A military spokesman, Andrii Yusov, verified the death and Kuzminov’s identity to local media, according to Fox News. Russia has also confirmed the details, unsurprisingly labeling Kuzminov a criminal and a “traitor,” in the words of Sergey Naryshkin, the country’s head of the Foreign Intelligence Service.

In 2023 Kuzminov went AWOL from the Russian military and flew his army helicopter over the Ukrainian border. The aircraft, an MI-8, was carrying spare parts for Russian fighter jets.

Ukraine’s secretary for the National Security and Defense Council, Alexei Danilove, apparently told Kuzminov he had better stay in Ukraine to avoid being captured or worse by Russian operatives if he traveled outside the border.

Kuzminov’s body was found by officers from the Spanish Civil Guard. He had been shot at least six times and apparently run over by an unidentified vehicle. Reports suggest there were fake papers planted on his body that made him appear to be a 33-year-old Ukrainian.

According to a BBC report, when Ukrainian intelligence confirmed Kuzminov’s identity they added that he did not take their advice on staying inside Ukraine. “He decided to move to Spain,” they said, and had invited his ex-wife to join him there.

Spanish news outlet Efe reports that Kuzminov’s body was discovered in the eastern coastal town of Villajoyosa and that a burned car used by his attackers was also nearby.

The helicopter that Kuzminov flew into Ukraine had two other people on board who were not in on his plans to defect. They were shot to death as they ran back toward the border with Russia after the craft landed. Kuzminov was apparently also struck in the leg by gunfire, but escaped that day.

Last September, Kuzminov held a press conference in which he said he fled the Russian military because he opposed the war against Ukraine. He claimed the Ukrainian government had also promised him half a million dollars and protection for himself and his family.

Other Russian citizens who fled the country to arrive in Spain are calling on the country to give them greater protections against reprisals.

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