Belarusian partisans damage Russian surveillance aircraft

Photo: Franak Viačorka/ Twitter

A Russian A-50, Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft, was damaged in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarus capital of Minsk on Sunday, Belarus partisans and members of the exiled opposition said.

“Those were drones. The participants of the operation are Belarusian,” Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted as saying on the Poland-based Belsat news channel.

He added that “they are now safe, outside the country.”

Front and central parts of the aircraft as well as the radar antenna were damaged as a result of two explosions in the attack at the Machulishchy air base near Minsk, BYPOL reported.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, there have been several acts of sabotage in Belarus and in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, especially on the railway system.

Franak Viačorka, an adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said in a post on Twitter it was the most successful act of sabotage since the beginning of 2022. There were no immediate comments on the matter from the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus.

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Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka has not taken a direct part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but he allowed its forces access to use the territory as a staging post at the beginning of the invasion a year ago.

Russia and Belarus have set up a joint military unit in Belarus and have held numerous exercises. A number of Russian warplanes and surveillance aircraft have been deployed to Belarus.

“I am proud of all Belarusians who continue to resist the Russian hybrid occupation of Belarus & fight for the freedom of Ukraine,” Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter.

The Beriev A-50 aircraft, which has the NATO reporting name of Mainstay, is a Soviet Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft, with the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.

Belsat is a Polish broadcaster focused on Belarusian news that Minsk has branded extremists. BYPOL, which includes former law enforcement officers who support opposition politicians, has been branded a terrorist organization.