Belarusian partisans claim to destroy Russian plane in Belarus

Belarusian partisans claim to destroy Russian plane in Belarus
A Beriev A-50 aircraft flying over Moscow during Russia's 2020 Victory Day celebrations. Early reports claim that partisans destroyed a similar aircraft in Belarus. Credit: Ludvig14/Wikimedia Commons

The exiled Belarusian opposition claimed on Sunday that a Russian plane was destroyed at an airfield near Minsk in what they called “the most successful diversion” since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Partisans… confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a rare Russian plane at the airfield in Matchulishchy, near Minsk,” said Franak Viačorka, chief advisor to exiled Belarusian leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

The sabotage was reportedly carried out by two Belarusian nationals using drones. These saboteurs have “already left the country and are in safety now,” Viačorka said.

While the exact model of the aircraft reportedly damaged by the opposition has not been confirmed, the opposition spokesperson said that the value of the aircraft was €330 million.

Independent media in Belarus has reported that a Russian A-50 surveillance and command aircraft was destroyed. However, the type of aircraft or whether the attack did in fact take place, cannot be independently verified. The Russian army has not responded to reports of the attack.

“I am proud of all Belarusian who continue to resist the Russian hybrid occupation of Belarus and fight for the freedom of Ukraine. Your brave actions show the world that Belarus stands against imperial aggression. Glory to heroes!,” Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter.

While Belarus has not played an active role in Russia’s war in Ukraine, it lends its territory to Russian forces as a staging ground for attacks against the capital and the north of the country.

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Russia regularly uses Belarusian airfields to to fire missiles and carry out aerial attacks on Ukraine. There has been longstanding speculation that the Belarusian Army may join Russia’s offensive against Ukraine in the future, yet President Lukashenko has insisted Belarus would only intervene if it came under attack.

Russia and Belarus have stepped up military exercises in recent months, but experts are still reluctant to speculate whether this amounts to evidence of an upcoming offensive.

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