Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has dismissed claims of offering a $2 million bounty for any Russian pilot who delivers an MiG fighter jet to Ukraine as a ‘legend.’ However, the ministry did confirm the existence of a reward program aimed at encouraging Russian soldiers to surrender and avoid death on the battlefield.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, stated that while the $2 million figure was not accurate, there would indeed be rewards for certain actions. He cited the ‘I want to live’ initiative, which has already achieved significant results. Operation Sinitsa, for instance, enticed Russian pilot Maksym Kuzminov, 28, to fly a Russian Mi-8 helicopter to Ukraine, with his reward estimated at around $500,000.
This initiative has reportedly led to an increase in the number of Russian soldiers considering similar scenarios to avoid combat and death.
In other developments:
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin congratulated Rustem Umerov on his appointment as Ukraine’s defense minister, reaffirming the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a recent address to the nation, highlighted the advances made by the Ukrainian military over the past week and emphasized the importance of Ukrainian heroism in determining the outcome of the war.
- Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces had successfully reclaimed approximately 2 square miles of occupied territory in the south, including part of the volatile Donetsk region, in the past week.
Additionally, Ukraine faces a countdown of approximately 45 days to press its counteroffensive before challenging weather conditions hinder military operations. Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the slower-than-expected progress of the counteroffensive but emphasized that Ukrainian forces continue to make steady progress despite the challenges. The outcome of the counteroffensive’s success remains uncertain at this stage.