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Russian Air Force general killed after his Su-25 fighter jet was ‘blown out of the sky with a US-made Stinger missile’

Another Russian air force general was killed after his Su-25 fighter jet was shot down by Ukrainian forces with a Stinger missile.

The death of retired Russian Air Force Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, is believed to be the highest-ranking pilot known to have died since the war began on February 24.

Photo released purportedly showing the crashed Su-25 fighter jet

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Photo released purportedly showing the crashed Su-25 fighter jetPhoto credit: BBC
Major General Kanamat Botashev is considered the highest-ranking pilot to be killed since the war began

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Major General Kanamat Botashev is considered the highest-ranking pilot to be killed since the war beganPhoto credit: BBC
Botashev was reportedly shot down by soldiers from 3rd Company, 80th Brigade with a US-made Stinger missile (file photo)

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Botashev was reportedly shot down by soldiers from 3rd Company, 80th Brigade with a US-made Stinger missile (file photo)Photo credit: Getty
Russian Su-25 fighter jet shot down on May 22 (File Photo)

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Russian Su-25 fighter jet shot down on May 22 (File Photo)Photo credit: Getty

Before retiring, Botashev was commander of an aviation regiment.

Botashev’s death was confirmed to the BBC by three of his former subordinates, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

A May 22 announcement by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said a Russian Su-25 attack plane had been shot down in the skies over the Luhansk region.

Along with a published image of the burning plane, an adviser to the head of the Interior Ministry, Anton Gerashchenko, said: “In the distance, the remains of the Su-25 shot down by soldiers of the 3rd company of the 80th brigade, the Luhansk region is on fire an hour ago out of. ‘Stinger’ worked perfectly.”

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The report added the pilot did not have time to eject.

One of Botashev’s former colleagues confirmed to the BBC that the retired general had been carrying out assignments on the Su-25 in Ukraine.

According to the former colleague, discussions in one of the Russian Telegram channels said: “Today Kanamat died! Popasnaya district, 8:25 … The first call from the NAR-s, the second – bombs … Stingers at the exit from the attack, an explosion in the air and … That’s it.”

NARs are unguided missiles.

The channel admins later deleted the comment, but other members of the group continued the discussion with the initials CHB.

“Farewell, Commander… There are few people on this planet who have lived in heaven as much as you have. Heaven takes the best, today it took you,” wrote Fighterbomber, an authoritative Telegram channel in Russian military pilot circles.

Botashev was a sniper pilot who, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, takes between 10 and 12 years to train and costs around $8 million (£6.4 million).

It’s not clear what the retired general was doing in Ukraine or how he ended up flying a Su-25.

However, Russia launched a recruitment campaign in early March.

Russian military registration and recruiting offices, patriotic organizations and the mercenary group PMC Wagner have been active in recruiting candidates to fight in Ukraine.

Botashev was born in Karachay-Cherkessia in 1959 and graduated from Yeysk Higher Military Aviation Institute as a fighter-bomber pilot.

However, he was reportedly discharged from the military in 2013 when he was accused of crashing a Su-27 fighter near the city of Petrozavodsk, which he did not have permission to fly.

He then worked as Deputy Chairman for Aviation of the Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation and Navy in Leningrad Region.

At least 31 Russian military pilots have died since Russian troops invaded their neighbors, although the real number could be higher.

Major General Vladimir Frolov, deputy commander of the 8th Combined Arms Army, is said to have been the eighth Russian general to be killed in action.

The exact details of how and where he died have not been released.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lost another general in March, Lieutenant General Andrei Mordvichev, commander of the 8th Combined Arms Army, who was killed in the Battle of Chernobayevka near the southern city of Kherson.

It followed the deaths of Major General Andrei Kolesnikov of the 29th Combined Arms Army and Vitaly Gerasimov, killed in fighting outside Kharkiv.

Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky was reportedly shot dead by a sniper in early March in the battle for Hostomel airfield about 30 miles outside the capital Kyiv.

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And General Magomed Tushaev died when his 56-tank Chechen special force was wiped out near Hostomel, northeast of the city.

Major General Oleg Mityaev, 47, died in Mariupol, as did Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev, who also died in combat.

Major General Vladimir Frolov was buried in St. Petersburg

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Major General Vladimir Frolov was buried in St. PetersburgPhoto credit: East2West
Colonel Miras Bashakov died in battle

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Colonel Miras Bashakov died in battlePhoto credit: East2West
Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev was killed in Chornobaivka, near Kherson

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Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev was killed in Chornobaivka, near KhersonPhoto credit: East2West

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