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Russia Accuses Ukraine of Plot to Destroy Its Last Active Aircraft Carrier


Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it prevented an attempt by Ukrainian intelligence to destroy the country’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, in northern Russia.

In March, a Ukrainian intelligence officer who introduced himself as “Oleg” contacted a Russian citizen who was working on the flagship of the Russian Navy on WhatsApp and Telegram. Oleg offered a large reward and an opportunity to travel abroad for committing “a terrorist attack” on the vessel, the FSB said. It added the operation was personally supervised by the head of Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency, Kyrylo Budanov.

Newsweek couldn’t independently verify the FSB’s claims and contacted Ukrainian authorities for comment by email.

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
Russian aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ tied up at a Rosatomflot moorage of the northern port city of Murmansk in Russia on May 19, 2018. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it prevented an attempt by…


ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

The Admiral Kuznetsov, launched in 1985, has been out of service and under repair since 2018 after a crane collapsed on it in a floating dock near Murmansk. In July 2023, Russian state media reported that the vessel may reenter service by the end of this year.

“If something goes wrong during the tests, then a shift to 2025 is inevitable,” Tass reported, citing an unnamed defense source.

The FSB also said it had thwarted an attempt on the lives of high-ranking Defense Ministry officials in Moscow.

“All organizers and accomplices of the crimes, including foreign citizens, have been declared wanted and will be prosecuted in accordance with Russian law,” the FSB said.

The accusation comes days after the FSB said it prevented an attempt by Ukraine to recruit a Russian pilot to hijack a Tu-22M3 supersonic strategic bomber jet.

The FSB said Monday that Ukraine’s special services promised the Russian pilot Italian citizenship and money as part of a deal that would see him “fly and land a missile carrier in Ukraine.”

“Ukrainian intelligence intended to recruit a Russian military pilot for a monetary reward and the provision of Italian citizenship, to persuade him to fly and land a missile carrier in Ukraine,” the FSB said, alleging NATO involvement in the plot.

The FSB added that, during the operation, it received information that helped Russia’s military strike Ukraine’s northwestern Ozerne airfield.

The FSB released a video that purportedly shows the Russian pilot, whose face is covered by a helmet. Ukrainian intelligence contacted him on the Telegram messaging service and attempted to recruit him, he said. Newsweek has been unable to verify this video.

“An unknown person wrote on Telegram. No morals, no ethics – immediately started with threats against my close relatives. Demanded that the aircraft be set on fire,” the pilot said.

“I went to the command and told everything. My interlocutor did not even hide the fact that he was from the Ukrainian special services. He introduced himself as Pavlo, offered to hijack a combat aircraft to Ukrainian territory. But not just any aircraft, but a long-range bomber-missile carrier, a carrier of nuclear weapons,” he added.

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