Russian pilot found alive 30 years after shot down in Afghanistan

A Soviet soldier who went missing after a battle in Afghanistan in 1980 was found alive in 2013, living in the Afghan city of Herat. (Courtesy: me.me)
Updated 02 June 2018

Russian pilot found alive 30 years after shot down in Afghanistan

  • RIA Novosti reported that during the course of the war between 1979 and 1989, 125 Soviet planes were shot down in Afghanistan
  • When Soviet troops pulled out in 1989, around 300 soldiers were listed as missing

MOSCOW: A Russian pilot who was missing presumed dead after his plane was shot down three decades ago during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan has been found alive and wants to come home, Russian military veterans said Friday.
“He is still alive. It’s very astonishing. Now he needs help,” the head of the paratroopers’ union Valery Vostrotin told RIA Novosti state news agency.
Vostrotin, who heads the Russian side of a Russian-US joint commission on prisoners-of-war and soldiers missing in action, declined to name the pilot for reasons of confidentiality.
The man was shot down in 1987 and is likely now to be over 60, the deputy head of veteran’s organization Battle Brotherhood, Vyacheslav Kalinin, told the news agency, adding that he now wants to come home.
He suggested that the pilot could be in Pakistan, where Afghanistan had camps for prisoners of war.
RIA Novosti reported that during the course of the war between 1979 and 1989, 125 Soviet planes were shot down in Afghanistan.
When Soviet troops pulled out in 1989, around 300 soldiers were listed as missing. Since then some 30 have been found and most returned to their home countries.
Kommersant business daily reported that only one Soviet pilot was shot down in 1987, naming him as Sergei Pantelyuk from the southern Russian Rostov region, who went missing along with his plane after taking off from Bagram airfield, now a US air base, north of Kabul.
The head of a local veterans’ organization said that his mother and sister are both alive.
Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid also traced Pantelyuk’s 31-year-old daughter who was born months before her father went missing.
Senator Frants Klintsevich told RIA Novosti that this was far from the only such case. He said that he had met a former Soviet soldier on a trip to Afghanistan a few years ago who refused to give his name and spoke Russian with difficulty and said it was too late for him to go back.
Former Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov, who was interviewed by AFP in 2015, was one of those who opted to remain in Afghanistan. He was seriously wounded and was nursed back to health by local people and then converted to Islam.
He told AFP: “I stayed in Afghanistan because Afghans are very kind and hospitable people.”


EU weighs options as Turkey stand-off grinds on

Updated 04 December 2020

EU weighs options as Turkey stand-off grinds on

  • Next week’s EU summit will be held in Brussels with leaders meeting face-to-face
  • Turkey and Greece countries are NATO members and the alliance has set up a “de-confliction mechanism”

BRUSSELS: European Council chief Charles Michel said Friday that Turkey has not de-escalated its stand-off with Greece and warned EU members now need to consider tougher options.
“I think that the cat and mouse game needs to end,” Michel said, referring to Turkey’s repeated incursions into Greek waters with gas exploration vessels.
“We will have a debate at the European summit on December 10 and we are ready to use the means at our disposal,” he added.
Next week’s EU summit will be held in Brussels with leaders meeting face-to-face after videoconferences were held as a coronavirus prevention measure.
One possibility, backed by some members, would be economic sanctions, but many states are not convinced.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a conference in Italy “the EU Council will have to take the decision that only the EU can take, because the sanctions regime, it’s a matter for the member states.”
“There are not very many positive signals that came from Turkey during these months — in Cyprus and on the drilling, the talks between Greece and Turkey have not been developing,” he said.
Turkey has been challenging Greece over maritime territory in the Eastern Mediterranean, repeatedly sending a gas exploration vessel into Greek waters.
Both countries are NATO members and the alliance has set up a “de-confliction mechanism” to help avoid accidental military clashes.
But a German-led diplomatic approach to Ankara has made little progress in resolving the underlying issues, and some EU members — notably France and Greece itself — are pushing for stronger action.
Other EU capitals are more cautious, some fearing an escalating stand-off could see Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government once again allow a wave of refugees to head for EU borders.
Michel, who will host the summit, expressed Europe’s frustration.
“In October, after a very dense and strategic high level exchange, we defined a very positive offer to Turkey, we extended our hands,” he told a news conference to mark his first year in office.
“But the condition to move in that area is that Turkey needs to stop unilateral provocations, hostile statements, and the non-respect of international principles and rules-based society.
“Well, since October, things have not been very positive,” Michel noted.
“Since that time, we’ve seen that there have been unilateral acts that have taken place, a hostile rhetoric has been expressed.”
Backed by Turkish navy frigates, the research vessel the Oruc Reis was first deployed in August and again in October to the waters off Kastellorizo island, in defiance of EU and US calls to stop.
It returned to port again in October, but may go back to the disputed zone while Ankara says that, with its long Mediterranean coastline, its claim to sovereign waters in the region is stronger than Greece’s, which is based on its ownership of tiny Kastellorizo.