Ukraine mourns three fighter pilots who appear to have died in an accident. Two training planes collided in mid-air, according to sources in Kiev. President Zelenskyy expresses his condolences.
According to information from Kiev, three pilots of the Ukrainian Air Force were killed in a collision between fighter jets in north-western Ukraine, including the well-known fighter pilot “Juice”. The fatalities were Vyacheslav Minka, Serhiy Prokasin and Andriy Pilschchykov aka “Juice,” the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade said on Sunday.
Known fighter pilot “Juice” among the dead
In the accident, two L-39 training aircraft collided in the Zhytomyr region on Friday, the Ukrainian Air Force announced a day later. An investigation into the cause of the accident had been initiated.
The deaths of the three pilots mean a heavy loss for the Ukrainian Air Force, which is currently training on modern F-16 fighter jets to bolster its Soviet-era fleet and boost the counter-offensive against the Russian army. Denmark, the Netherlands and most recently Norway recently pledged delivery of F-16 jets to Ukraine.
Pilschchykov, known by the aviator name “Juice”, was “courageous, principled and uncompromising”, his brigade explained. The three victims had been “involved in air operations in defense of Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s aggression,” including “tactical tasks in the east and in the Zaporizhia region.”
Volodymr Zelenskyy praises pilots as defenders of the “free skies of Ukraine”
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force described Pilshchykov as a pilot with “mega-knowledge and mega-talent”. “Rest in peace, you have done so much for us,” said the spokesman in online networks. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid tribute to the dead in a speech on Saturday as a defender of the “free skies of Ukraine”.
Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in early June to recapture the territories occupied by Russia. Most recently, Kiev had admitted difficulties in advancing against the Russian units.
On Sunday, Ukraine reported the downing of four cruise missiles in the north and center of the country amid renewed Russian night airstrikes. The head of the military administration in the Kiev region said that two people were injured by falling missile debris. Ten houses were therefore damaged.
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