Machulishchy air base attack

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Machulishchy air base attack
Part of the Belarusian partisan movement (2020–present) and the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Russian Federation Air Force Beriev A-50M aircraft.JPG
Aircraft A-50U (RF-50608) in the year 2011 [1]
DateFebruary 26, 2023
Belarus, Minsk region, Machulishchi airport
Flag of Belarus (1918, 1991-1995).svg Belarusian opposition Flag of Russia.svg  Russia
BYPOL. Ab'iadnanne silavikou Belarusi.png BYPOL Great emblem of the Russian Aerospace Forces.svg Russian Aerospace Forces

On February 26, 2023, at the Machulishchy military airfield, around 12 kilometers from Minsk, a Russian A-50 early warning military aircraft was damaged as a result of explosions. [2] BYPOL claimed responsibility for the drone attack. Alyaksandr Lukashenko acknowledged the attack only a week later, stating that the damage to the aircraft was minor. Later, he admitted that the A-50 still had to be sent to Russia for repairs. [3]


Russian A-50 in Belarus

Alexander Lukashenko, being an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, allowed Russia to use the territory of Belarus as a launching pad for the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. [4] After the beginning of the invasion, the resistance members from Belarus, who called themselves "partisans", began to carry out sabotage on the railways used by Russian troops. At the time of the incident in Machulishchy, Belarusian partisans claimed involvement in 17 major railway sabotages. [3]

According to the publication the Military Balance for 2022 the Air Force of the Russian Federation had 3 A-50's and 6 A-50U's. [5] The cost of such an aircraft is estimated at 330 million dollars. According to the monitoring group "Belarus Gayan" A-50U aircraft with registration number RF-50608 flew to Belarus on January 3, 2023 and by the time of the incident made 12 flights. [1] According to the Belarusian authorities, this long-range radar detection and control aircraft was used by them to monitor their border. According to the Belarusian partisans, who was stationed in their station. [6] In this regard, the Ukrainian edition of Ukrainska Pravda noted that aircraft carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles usually took off from the Machulishchi airfield, which is why an air force was declared in Ukraine. [7]

The course of the attack

On the morning of February 26, 2023, at the Belarusian military airfield "Machulishchi", located 12 km from Minsk, there were explosions. After that, activists from BYPOL reported that as a result of at least two explosions, a Russian military transport aircraft and snowplows were damaged. [8] It was reported that in the area of the airfield, local residents observed a large number of military and traffic police crews, They checked all passing cars. Later, BYPOL reported that sabotage was committed at the military airfield, as a result of which the Russian military long-range radar detection aircraft A-50 was seriously damaged - its front and central parts, as well as avionics and radar, were damaged. [9]

The incident was initially denied by both the Belarusian and Russian sides. [10] However, a month later, Alexander Lukashenko acknowledged the attack, saying that the damage to the plane was minor. Later, he nevertheless admitted that the A-50 had to be sent to Russia for repairs. [11]


Responsibility for the drone attack was claimed by the Association of Security Forces of Belarus (BYPOL), the core of which is made up of former military men who disagree with the policy of the country's authorities. [12] BYPOL works closely with the team of the leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. BYPOL leader Aliaksandr Azarau said in an interview with Belsat, that all the people who carried out the attack were able to leave Belarus safely and confirmed that it was carried out by drones. [13]

Alexander Lukashenko announced the arrest of the perpetrator of the attack, a dual citizen of Ukraine and Russia, along with more than 20 accomplices and accused them of having links with the Ukrainian special services. [14] [15] BYPOL and the Ukrainian authorities rejected accusations of Kiev's involvement. BYPOL leader Aliaksandr Azarau said that the person named by Lukashenka as the executor is not familiar to him. [11]

Reaction and aftermath

BYPOL leader Aliaksandr Azarau said that the group is preparing other operations to liberate Belarus "from Russian occupation" and liberate Belarus from the Lukashenka regime, noting that they now have a "two-headed enemy". [16]

Ukrainian authorities have rejected accusations of involvement in the incident. [17]

The ONT TV channel, citing the deputy head of the Investigative Directorate of the KGB of Belarus, Konstantin Bychek, reported that in the case of the incident with the plane at the military airfield in Machulishchy - about 30 defendants, they may face death. It is known about the detention of IT specialist Dmitry Mostovoy. All the detainees were charged under the article on the terrorist attack. [18]

The Human Rights Center "Viasna" reported that the former Deputy Minister of Communications of Belarus and Assistant to the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) was detained in Russia, Dmitry Shedko, who could be associated with people involved in sabotage in Machulishchy. [19]

According to the calculations of military expert Ilya Kramnik, quoted by Radio Liberty, at the end of November 2022, Russian A-50 reconnaissance aircraft spent about 40 hours in the air in the war zone in Ukraine, this means that most of the time the Russian army already received insufficient information from them, while the Ukrainian army was supplied with intelligence information by NATO countries. [20]

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