The Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) has reportedly shot down three helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in the area near the M-4 highway (Rostov/Voronezh region), according to a report by the Telegram channel Fighterbomber, which is connected to the VKS.
According to the channel, two Mi-8 MTPR helicopters and one Mi-35 were shot down. It is stated that the Mi-8 MTPR helicopters are electronic warfare (EW) aircraft and were not equipped with weapons. The crews are alive, but there is speculation that one of the helicopter crew members may be injured.
“Due to the fact that the Wagner column is traveling along the M-4 highway mixed with civilian vehicles, the helicopters presumably cannot operate,” the channel says.
This information is corroborated by the Telegram channel Helicopterpilot, which is associated with army aviation. It states that the helicopters were shot down after opening fire on the Wagner column. “The use of force was directed against the Mi-35 by the PMC. There is no information about the crew. Preliminarily, the PMC returned fire after the column was targeted,” the channel's message states.
According to sources from Helicopterpilot, “some of the regular crews who were tasked with striking the PMC column refused to carry out the mission. As a result, some higher-ups were assigned to carry it out.”
During a conversation with Deputy Defense Minister Yevkurov and the First Deputy Chief of the GRU of the General Staff, Alekseev, Prigozhin stated that the Wagner PMC had already shot down three VKS helicopters. “We will shoot down all [helicopters] if you continue to send them. Because you are shooting at peaceful civilians, you are killing innocent people. You just blew up a bus with people, and you have no conscience,” Prigozhin told Yevkurov.
Fighterbomber also reports that the Wagner PMC has taken control of the Millerovo military airfield. While aviation crews are carrying out combat missions, representatives of the PMC are present on board the aircraft.
Earlier, Reuters and BBC reported, citing sources, that the Wagner PMC mercenaries had taken control of all military facilities in Voronezh. A counter-terrorism operation regime was introduced in the Voronezh region on June 24.