Belarus: This is how partisans claim to have attacked Putin’s spy plane

Videos of drone flights
Belarusian partisans say they attacked Putin’s spy plane

This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows a Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft (M) at Machulishchy air base near Minsk.

A Russian reconnaissance plane was apparently damaged in Belarus last week. A Belarusian partisan group claims responsibility for the crime. Now they have released videos that could explain how they did it.

On Sunday, the opposition in Belarus broke the news that a Russian plane had been destroyed in an act of sabotage. The Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft was blown up at the airfield in Makhulishchi near the capital Minsk, said Franak Viacorka, a close adviser to the exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, on Twitter.

According to Wiacorka, the attack was carried out by two Belarusians using drones. They have already left the country and are safe.

Now drone videos have surfaced that are supposed to show how the plane was allegedly destroyed.

Partisan group from Belarus publishes drone videos

The Belarusian partisan group “Bypol” published a video on YouTube showing a drone flying to an airfield. The star was able to verify that it is Makhulishchi airfield. The drone approaches several aircraft and then lands on the A-50. Then she takes off again and flies away.

Additional videos that have surfaced on Twitter show a drone flying in the direction of the reconnaissance plane and hovering over it. The drone lands on the A-50, which is slightly snow-covered, unlike in the aforementioned video, then the video stops.

Whether these recordings actually show how the plane was destroyed cannot yet be independently confirmed. The extent of the damage is also unclear, as is whether the aircraft is still airworthy.

“Bypol” publishes letters: They flew with drones

However, the partisan group “Bypol” published a letter on Telegram that is tantamount to a letter of confession.

It says: “Not so long ago, the dictator once again told his propagandists that he had the best air defense and anti-drone means. Therefore, all military installations are said to be in complete safety. The real situation is shown in the video that transmitted by the battle group of participants in the Peramoga plan.”

The group therefore operated aerial reconnaissance with civilian drones at the Machulishchi military airfield. The drone not only flew into the protected area, but also near the A-50 reconnaissance aircraft – and landed on it, the statement said.

The research network “Bellingcat” published a series of satellite photos of the airfield and the A-50 on Twitter.

A satellite image from February 28 – two days after the alleged attack – shows an aircraft that looks like an A-50. “Dark patterns” can be seen on the wings. Compared to a photo taken on February 19, there seems to be differences in the colors of the wings. According to Bellingcat, this could be due to snowfall. This is not proof of a drone attack.

According to the research network, further satellite photos show that the aircraft was moved.

However, the videos intended to show the drone attack match the satellite images. The aircraft’s position matches the satellite imagery from February 28, Bellingcat said.

One inconsistency, however, is that the satellite photos show that there is no snow on the plane’s radome. However, snow can be seen on the videos that were published on Twitter and are supposed to show the explosion.

The Russian side has not yet made any statements about the reports.

Sources used: AFP news agency, “Bellingcat”, “Bypole” on Telegram

Collaboration: Moritz Dickentmann

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