Second ‘pensioner pilot’ to come out of retirement for Putin is shot down in Ukraine: Air force colonel, 63, is ‘hit by friendly fire’ while flying for private military backing the invasion
- Nikolai Markov, 63, a former Russian air force colonel, shot down in Luhansk
- He was flying an Su-25 bomber close to the ground when it was blown up
- Markov had retired , but returned to battle for a private military company
- Comes after Major General Kanamat Botashev, and retired fighter pilot, was also shot down and killed in the skies over Ukraine
A second ‘pensioner pilot’ flying for Vladimir Putin’s air force in Ukraine has been shot down and killed.
Nikolai Markov, 63, a retired air force colonel, died when his Su-25 bomber was shot down over the Luhansk region of Donbas on an unknown date.
There are conflicting reports about how he died. Some claim he was killed by friendly fire while flying low to the ground, but Ukraine says he was shot down by one of their Stinger missiles.
Markov was wingman to retired Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, whose death was reported this week, after he was hit in a separate incident by Ukrainian fire.
Nikolai Markov, 63, a retired Russian air force colonel (left and right) has been killed fighting for a private Russian military contractor in Ukraine
Major General Kanamat Botashev, 63, another retired Russian fighter pilot, was also shot down in Ukraine this week, friends confirmed
Both were flying for private military companies taking part in Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Markov was Russian-born but had Belarusian citizenship and was buried in Lida, Belarus. The exact date of his burial was not made clear.
Disgraced general Kanamat ‘Flop Gun’ Botashev was also shot down by a Ukrainian Stinger missile.
He had been fired from the Russian air force after an unsanctioned joyride aerial acrobatics stunt – but was taken on as a mercenary pilot.
Separately, Russia lost another serving Lieutenant-Colonel as Sergey Nikitin, 43, a father-of-three whose death was revealed by sister Nadezhda.
It continues a trend of Russian top brass being massacred in Ukraine, as Russia’s military is mauled in its bungled invasion of the country.
‘It’s impossible to contemplate this terrible loss,’ she said in a heartbroken eulogy.
‘The whole world is blackened by grief, and the sun is not shining any longer.
‘I can’t believe you left us, brother. Our grief is endless.
Markov had served in the Russian air force and retired, but had returned to the battlefield to fight for a private military contractor
Colonel Sergey Nikitin, 43, was also confirmed dead fighting in Ukraine – just the latest in a series of military top brass to be killed
‘You will be forever alive in our memory, and always loved.’
Russia is now known to have lost 44 serving colonels, although the toll may be higher because it has refused to provide detailed statistics of its full toll in Ukraine.
Nine Russian generals apart from Botashev are also known to have died with reports that the US has assisted Ukraine with intelligence to allow them to target Putin’s most high ranking soldiers.
Nikitin was from Zvenigovo in Mari El republic, on the left bank of the Volga River.
A female friend, Olesya, said: ‘A day of deep sadness… we mourn the loss of a dear person together with his family.’
A male friend, Alexey, said: ‘I just can’t believe he’s gone.
‘It feels like he is far, far away, but alive.’
There is growing evidence of a backlash against the war in Russia.
Rock concerts have become venues for protest against the conflict in Ukraine.
As many as 16 military recruitment offices have been hit by Molotov cocktails in defiance over bids to surge enlistment into the army through conscription.