Belarusian resistance releases video of drone landing on damaged Russian spy plane

The Russian Beriev A-50

The Russian Beriev A-50

The Belarusian partisans behind the claimed sabotage of a rare Russian spy plane last week have released footage purporting to show an audacious drone mission over the airfield.

The video released on Thursday by BYPOL, a shadowy resistance group believed to have been set up by former security officers, showed a drone flying across the airfield during daylight, managing to land on the radome of the aircraft before flying off again.

In an accompanying statement, the partisan group said it used commercially available drones to conduct reconnaissance flights over the airfield for two weeks before the claimed attack, without being intercepted by air defences.

“What about the lauded anti-drone countermeasures, which cost tens of millions of rubles … to develop and produce? The answer is obvious: they did nothing,” it said.

BYPOL on Sunday claimed it had damaged a rare Beriev A-50 aircraft in a pair of explosions at the Machulishchi air base just outside Minsk.

Satellite imagery from after the claimed attack appeared to show that only limited damage, if any, had been done to the aircraft.

The A-50 is a sophisticated surveillance aircraft with command and control capabilities. They are thought to cost around £274 million and Russia only has nine of them.

Belarusian State television on Wednesday showed footage of what it said was the undamaged plane.

“As you can see, the plane […] is carrying out its work within the framework of the allied grouping of Belarus and Russia, alive and in one piece,” said a commentator.

It was the first time an official source in either Moscow or Minsk had commented on the supposed attack.

A staunch Russian ally, Belarus has allowed Moscow to use its territory to launch attacks on Ukraine.

There have been numerous acts of sabotage in Belarus and in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, especially on the railway system, since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.