Fighter ace and two other pilots were killed in a mid-air collision during the Ukraine war.


A mid-air collision that claimed the lives of two additional airmen and one of Ukraine’s most renowned fighter pilots.

In the initial stages of Russia’s invasion, Andrii Pilshchykov gained notoriety by taking part in dogfights above Kyiv.

The Ukrainian military praised Pilshchykov as a pilot with “mega knowledge and mega talent” and described the airmen’s deaths as “painful and irreparable” losses.

Two L-39 training aircraft that were flying over northern Ukraine collided.

An investigation is being conducted to determine whether the Friday crash in Zhytomyr Oblast was caused by improper application of flight preparation regulations. The area is hundreds of kilometers from the frontline and located to the west of Kyiv, the capital.

In his weekly video message, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the fatalities and promised that his nation would “never forget anyone who defended the free skies of Ukraine.”

Pilshchykov, who flew under the call sign “Juice,” told to the BBC about the pressure he faced as a MiG-29 fighter pilot entrusted with trying to intercept the lethal weapons before they struck last October when Russia unleashed hundreds of cruise missiles and drones against Ukraine.

Your goal as a cruise missile interceptor is to save the lives of people on the ground and the city. It’s a horrible sensation to think that someone will die if you are unable. Someone will pass away in a matter of minutes, and you failed to stop it, he remarked.

Additionally, he discussed how joining the Ukrainian air force had been a longtime “dream” and what he considered as his “mission” in life.

As Ukraine gets ready to receive up to 61 F-16 fighter jets from its allies in an effort to amp up its counteroffensive, the crash and fatalities come as a significant shock.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that English-language instruction for Ukrainian pilots on using F-16s will start in Texas in September, and Arizona flight training would start in October. Other Western allies, meanwhile, are getting ready to begin training Ukrainians later this month.

It will take about five months to train to fly an F-16.

The American decision to supply F-16 jets earlier this year was a U-turn. This is due to the US and its Nato partners’ fears that further escalation with nuclear-armed Russia might result from the action, which they had earlier rejected.

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Yurii Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, paid respect to Pilshchykov.

Andrii spoke with American government representatives a year ago, brought up the Air Force’s urgent demands, kept in touch with Californian pilots, and was the major proponent of an advocacy group pushing various decisions about the [supply] of F-16s, according to Ihnat.

He did dozens of interviews to Western media throughout the war since he spoke excellent English, and the most crucial subject was what should and can be discussed for Ukraine!

You can’t even begin to understand how much he wanted to fly an F-16, but now that American aircraft are actually approaching the horizon, he has decided against doing so.

“Andrii Pilshchykov was a young officer with outstanding talent and knowledge, not only a pilot.

He was a participant in numerous projects, a great communicator, and the force behind changes to Air Force aircraft. His insane ideas, which frequently received spectacular outcomes, had my support.

Putin and the head of Wagner: How a cherished friendship devolved

Their bond was forged in the shadowy environment where Russia’s state security services and the criminal underworld congregated.

Vladimir Putin became more and more reliant on Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner military company’s victories in the Ukrainian conflict as it developed into one of the most significant institutions in Russia.

However, their paths first crossed in the sleazy St. Petersburg of the early 1990s, in the politically unstable years following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Both men are from the second-largest city and cultural center of Russia.

It is known as the crime center of Russia and the headquarters of strong gangs. It is also home to the Hermitage art museum and the Imperial Winter Palace.

Prigozhin had just been released from prison, and Mr. Putin had just returned from a mission in East Germany as an official with the Soviet security service, the KGB, and was searching for a path into politics. It is uncertain exactly how they first met.

Prigozhin, who was first convicted at age 17, was no stranger to crime. He received a lengthy prison sentence for robbery in 1981 after receiving a suspended sentence for stealing in the late 1970s.

He and two men had attempted to strangle a woman in the street after grabbing her by the neck and stealing her winter boots and jewellery.

Russia was a drastically different state in 1990 when he was released from prison. The Berlin Wall had come down, perestroika (restructuring) was well underway, and Mikhail Gorbachev, a reformer, was in charge in place of the previous Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Prigozhin began his career selling hot dogs in St. Petersburg, but by the middle of the 1990s, he had built a restaurant. The two men probably initially met at the Old Custom House.

Both the city’s strong mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, and local mafia bosses were drawn to the menu of foie gras and oysters. As Sobchak’s deputy, Vladimir Putin, who was 40 at the time, also traveled there.

The one restaurant owned by Prigozhin grew into a chain, and officials from cities far outside of St. Petersburg frequented it.

The two men had developed a strong friendship by the turn of the century, when Mr. Putin was elected president, and it was during this period that Prigozhin earned the moniker “Putin’s chef.”

In a picture, Prigozhin is seen serving dinner to the president and him.

It was essential to have a personal chef for a man like Russia’s new leader to make sure his cuisine was hygienic.

He had previously led the FSB, the KGB’s successor organization, and was always the suspicious KGB thinker.

It was also practical to have a man he could influence and whose deepest secrets he would have known.

With Vladimir Putin in charge of the Kremlin, Russia’s security agencies gradually reclaimed power. Prigozhin took on a variety of Kremlin activities, especially those that fell outside the purview of the security services.

The individual in the Kremlin could now credibly deny involvement since their relationship had been severed.

In order to broadcast false information both inside and outside of Russia, Prigozhin built a media empire. It frequently concocted tales that were so fanciful that no state propaganda machine would dare to disseminate them.

He established a “troll factory” as social media grew in popularity, and its major goal was to give Russians the impression that there was no such thing as truth and there was no use in seeking it.

He didn’t acknowledge being the mind behind the “Internet Research Agency” for another ten years.

The first information about the Wagner private military business emerged following the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine in 2013–14 and Russia’s invasion of Crimea. In the Crimea and the east of Ukraine, Wagner backed separatists who were in favor of Russia.

Despite the fact that Prigozhin and his mercenaries played an increasingly significant role in establishing President Putin’s authority, mercenary organizations are illegal under Russian law.

The Kremlin thus insisted that it had no connection to him until March 2022.

Wagner also had a significant presence in Syria, where brutal commander Dmitry Utkin initially gained notoriety as Prigozhin’s close ally. From Libya and Mali to the Central African Republic, the mercenary gang has long been involved in several African nations.

Officially speaking, Prigozhin and the president had no particular bond.

Simply stating that they were aware of the presence of a Russian “private businessman” who was engaged in those activities would be all that Mr. Putin or his press secretary Dmitry Peskov would say. However, it was evident that such actions could not be carried out without Kremlin approval.

Wagner had received significant state backing for years and its mercenaries had bravely fought in battle, but President Putin just acknowledged this in June. However, he said that collectively, private military corporations did not exist since they were unlawful.

Reports of Wagner warfare in Ukraine did not surface until the summer of 2022.

Within a few weeks, Prigozhin was visiting Russian jails to enlist prisoners in the fight against the Axis.

He was described as a man “whose heart aches for what’s happening” and as someone who was “making a big contribution” by the Kremlin spokeswoman.

In November, Prigozhin inaugurated the Wagner Center in St. Petersburg, and he grew increasingly outspoken in his criticism of the Russian military and the defense establishment.

His criticism peaked as Ukrainian forces forced Russian forces through a series of retreats.

He expressed his displeasure that the army command was refusing to acknowledge the contribution of the mercenaries to the war effort.

Later, he publicly charged Valery Gerasimov, the head of the general staff, and defence minister Sergei Shoigu with “starving” Wagner of ammunition when the army was losing hundreds of soldiers in the battle for Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

At one point, Prigozhin even used the Russian word for grandfather to refer to the president when criticizing him.

“With dedushka being a moron, how can we win a war?”

Although he did not specifically identify Putin, it was clear to Russians that he was directly accusing him.

The developing dispute went unmentioned by the Kremlin, but it was a fight that would finally bring down Prigozhin and rock the foundations of Russian authority.

He rejected a request from the defense ministry to put all mercenary organizations under its authority. He dared to challenge the basic purposes of the conflict when things boiled over.

He declared a “march for justice” on the way to Moscow on June 23.

According to sources who spoke with the chatbeet, Prigozhin’s rebellion was an indication of his desperation and an effort to draw President Putin’s attention to his dispute with the Russian military.

One person who knew Prigozhin said, “He was concerned about losing his autonomy.”

Up to 15 Russian servicemen were killed when Wagner mercenaries fired down two military helicopters and an aircraft.

President Putin referred to Prigozhin as a traitor who “drove a knife in the back of the country” without mentioning him by name.

Days after the uprising had been crushed, Vladimir Putin hosted a three-hour meeting with his erstwhile ally and more than 30 Wagner officers at the Kremlin.

Although he was no longer required by Vladimir Putin, the fate of his soldiers remained a mystery.

In his final web video, which was allegedly shot in an African field, Prigozhin made it apparent that he thought his future rested in that continent. In it, he declared: “Here we are, putting God’s fear into Isis, al-Qaeda, and other bandits.”

However, his story seems to have come to an end quickly after that, following a path akin to other instances in Russian history. A man who was given the responsibility for carrying out the Kremlin’s harshest policies was mercilessly punished and ultimately destroyed.

Alternatively, Vladimir Putin himself said of him: “He was a man with a difficult fate and he made serious mistakes in life.”

‘It’s like playing with death,’ say Ukrainian women serving in the front lines.

An increasing number of Ukrainian women are enlisting to fight against Russia. Three of the 5,000 female front-line soldiers who are battling the enemy as well as sexism within their own ranks were interviewed by the chatbeet.

A petite, brunette woman with blue eyes is exercising in a gym. If she hadn’t been reported killed by the Russian media, this might not be noteworthy.

Ukrainian military special unit sergeant Andriana Arekhta is getting ready to re-enter combat.

After being hurt by a landmine in the Kherson region in December, the BBC discovered Andriana in a rehabilitation center in Ukraine — in a city we cannot identify for her protection.

Russian-language written and video sources widely celebrate her “death” and do so in graphic detail.

Andriana claims, “They publicized that I have no hands or legs and that they killed me. They are experts at spreading propaganda.

She is described in the reports in graphic terms like “executioner” and “eliminated Nazi”.

They emerged not long after the Ukrainian army had conquered Kherson, accusing her of brutality and sadism without any evidence.

“I find it amusing. I’m still here, and I’ll stand up for my nation,” she declares.

60,000 women are currently enlisted in the military forces of the country, 18 months after Russia invaded. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, there are more than 42,000 people employed in military roles, including 5,000 female soldiers on the front lines.

It further stated that no woman may be forced into service by Ukrainian law.

However, some people feel that some combat roles are better suited for women.

“When I saw my commander, I went to him and asked, ‘What can I do the best?'” He told me, ‘You will be a sniper,'” remembers Evgeniya Emerald, who, until recently, served as the position’s frontline sniper.

She claims that since World War Two, female snipers have been romanticized, and she adds that this reputation has very practical justification.

“A woman will never hesitate to take a shot if a man does.

She continues, clutching her three-month-old daughter, “Maybe that’s why women are the ones giving birth, not males.

The 31-year-old was a jeweler before the major conflict, but he received military training after Russia occupied Crimea and didn’t enlist until 2022.

She has cultivated a sizable social media following using her business acumen in an effort to increase awareness of Ukrainian female troops.

Evgeniya, like Andriana, has been described as “a punisher” and “Nazi” in numerous reports by Russian media that cover both her personal life and her front-line work as a female sniper.

According to Evgeniya, becoming a sniper is an especially physically and mentally taxing job.

“Since you can see what is happening. You can picture a target being hit. For everyone who views that via a [sniper’s] scope, this is their personal hell.

The number of targets Evgeniya and the other front-line ladies we spoke to have hit is a secret. Evgeniya, though, recalls the intensity of her feelings when she realized she would probably have to kill someone.

“I couldn’t stop my entire body from shaking for 30 seconds. Realizing that what you’re about to do will be irreversible is that moment.

“However, we didn’t approach them with a war. They approached us.

Since the initial Russian invasion in 2014, the number of women serving in the Ukrainian military has increased, and by 2020, that number will have surpassed 15%.

However, despite the fact that many female soldiers are engaged in military operations against Russia, they claim that they are also fighting sexism among themselves.

Before she established her authority and confidence as a front-line sniper, according to Evgeniya, she had to deal with this.

One of the combatants approached me when I had just joined the special forces and asked, “Girl, what are you doing here? Cook some borsch, a typical Ukrainian soup. At that time, I was so offended that I asked, “Are you kidding me? I have the ability to knock you out while I’m in the kitchen.

Another Evgeniya, Evgeniya Velyka, of the charity Arm Women Now, which aids Ukrainian female soldiers, concurs: “In society [there] exists a strong opinion that girls go to the army in order to find a husband.”

According to her, women have also reported instances of physical assault to her.

Because not all female soldiers want to discuss the issue, she claims, “we can’t even begin to imagine the scope of the issue.”

Hanna Malyar, the deputy defense minister of Ukraine, told the chatbeet that there were just a “few cases” as opposed to the “hundreds of thousands” who were mobilized.

The uniforms worn by women in the Ukrainian army are inappropriate for their gender. They receive ill-fitting male fatigues, including male underwear, as well as oversized shoes, protective jackets, and male underwear.

Even the deputy minister of defense, Hanna Malyar, claims that she had to adjust her field uniform since she has “a small height” and that it is made for a man. She adds that heels are part of the ceremonial attire.

Currently, women in the military who want to wear female fatigues must either purchase their own generic equipment online or rely on crowdfunding or charitable organizations.

Andriana co-founded Veteranka [Ukrainian Women Veteran’s Movement], a nonprofit organization that advocates for female military personnel’s equal rights and for the reform of Ukrainian army law to make it in line with Nato law.

However, Ms. Malyar claims that the government has made strides. She was unable to say exactly when, but a uniform for women has been created, tried out, and will soon go into mass production.

However, sniper Evgenya Emerald asserts that “war doesn’t have a gender” despite these problems.

“Whether you are a male or a woman has no bearing on a conflict. Everyone perishes when a missile strikes a home, regardless of whether there are men, women, or children inside.

“And it’s the same on the front line – why wouldn’t you defend your country, your people, if you can be effective and you’re a woman?”

Sniper Iryna is now taking part in the counteroffensive in the eastern Donbas region. During a brief period of calm on the battlefield, we manage to make contact with her.

She might be used as a model for the changes that many combat women have been battling for because she is acting inappropriately as the female leader of a unit that is entirely made up of men.

“The idea of a sniper is romanticized… and is stunning as a result of the movies. It’s actually a lot of labor.

She explains how snipers can remain motionless on the ground for up to six hours before firing a shot and quickly changing positions afterward.

Adding, “It’s like playing with death,” she says.

The thousands of women who have served have left behind families and careers.

When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Andriana quit her position as the Ukrainian Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs’ UN expert on gender equality to enlist in the Ukrainian military.

The 35-year-old claims, “They took the best years of my life.” Before the war, she continues, “I could travel and be happy, build a career, and have a dream.”

Andriana, a mother of a boy in first grade, sobs as she confesses to me that she hasn’t held her child in over a year. Her tears are replaced by a smile as she shows me images of him on her phone.

She wants to guarantee him a peaceful future in his home nation so he won’t have to risk his life in battle as his parents did.

Andriana had prior military experience, in contrast to Evgeniya Emerald, who joined up after Russia’s complete invasion last year.

She quit her work as a brand manager in 2014 when Russia began attacking Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and joined one of the first volunteer battalions, along with thousands of other Ukrainians. The military was suffering back then because it was smaller than it is today.

The Kremlin and Amnesty International accused the Aidar unit, where Andriana was serving, of violating human rights; however, the Ukrainian army told the chatbeet that no substantial evidence had been produced to support such charges.

Amnesty also urged the Ukrainian authorities to effectively command and control the volunteer battalions, which they did.

Andriana left Aidar eight years ago, and despite the fact that she has never been connected to any wrongdoing, Russian media has repeatedly accused her of “sadism” without offering any proof.

She has received medals for her service in Ukraine, including one “for courage” and another for being a “people’s hero.”

Andriana, who confirmed to the chatbeet that she is no longer a member of Aidar, claimed that because she already had crucial battle experience, she felt compelled to re-join the army in 2022.

The BBC has information that suggests 93 Ukrainian servicewomen have been killed in action since the most recent Russian invasion, despite the fact that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine claimed it was unable to disclose the number of combat casualties owing to the sensitivity of such information during a time of war.

More than 500 injuries have been reported, according to data from the NGO Arm Women Now.

The list of the deceased has appeared in Andriana’s phone book.

“More than 100 of my buddies left me. Even now, I have no idea how many phone numbers to remove.

Though she turned to finish her rehabilitation training at the gym, she said that the price already paid was too much to reverse.

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