by Clare Fitzgerald
Nov 16, 2022
Video has emerged showing what are believed to be Ukrainian commandos planting explosives on Russian attack helicopters, ultimately leading to their destruction. The footage, taken toward the end of October 2022, was filmed at Veretye air base in Russia’s Pskov Oblast, some 500 miles from the Ukrainian border, and posted to the social networking app Telegram.
According to Telegram news service Baza and confirmed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, the blasts resulted in the destruction of two Kamov Ka-52 Hokum-Bs and one Mil Mi-28N. Two additional helicopters suffered significant damage. Word also spread about one chopper being found with 400 grams of TNT explosives attached, which hadn’t detonated for an unknown reason.
While Ukraine confirmed the attack, government officials stopped short of claiming responsibility. That being said, it’s widely believed Ukrainian commandos are behind the explosions. If true, this would prove to be the first attack deep within Russian territory. Previous acts of sabotage had primarily occurred in border regions and Russia-occupied Crimea.
The video was shot during the day and shows a man, dressed in camouflage and black gloves, assembling an explosive device out of an MD-5M detonator and a VZD-6Ch. The latter operates on an up to six-hour delay, which resulted in the subsequent blasts occurring at night.
While Russian media reported on the explosions not long after they occurred, the country’s Ministry of Defence has yet to make a statement. Numerous reports have since been published, revealing Keretye’s security has been lacking for years, with an unnamed official telling Radio Free Europe, “It’s fairly easy to get into that military unit. There is zero security. You can get to any of the nearby villages and walk to the runway.”
Currently home to the 15th Army Aviation Brigade, the base was previously used by the Russian Navy’s 444th Center for Combat Employment and Retraining of Personnel Naval Aviation. According to The Drive, the 15th Army Aviation Brigade operates a number of aircraft, including detachments of Mil Mi-8 MTPR-1 Rychag electronic and Mil Mi-26 heavy transport helicopters; 12 Mi-28Ns; one squadron each of 16 Mi-8 MTV-5s and 12 Kamov Ka-52s; and Mil Mi-35Ms.
As aforementioned, two of the aircraft destroyed in the Ukrainian commando attack were Ka-52s. Nicknamed the “Alligator,” the helicopter is among the most advanced military vehicles at Russia’s disposal. It features advanced navigation controls and helmet-mounted sight displays, and is equipped with anti-tank missiles, air support rockets and bombs.
According to Britain’s Ministry of Defence, Russia had 90 Ka-52s in its arsenal at the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War. However, that number has since decreased, with the government branch claiming the country’s military has lost at least 23.