No air superiority, no ground fighting superiority, and another Russian general dead. Retired Russian Major General Kanamat Botashev was reported to be shot down and killed in Ukraine while flying in a Su-25 fighter jet, Ukrainian intel and Russian Telegram discussion threads claim.

Community members on a Russian Telegram channel named “Fighterbomber” began to discuss a Russian General who died in Ukraine. In the comments sections of one particular message within the group, a user had revealed that Botashev had died flying across Popasna.

“Kanamat died today !!! Popasna District, 8:25… The first NAR event, the second – bombs… Stinger on the way out of the attack, an explosion in the air and… Everything,” the user said, claiming that a Stinger had brought down the fighter jet. Since then, the administrator of the group has deleted the comment.

The General Staff of Ukraine also confirmed the death of the Russian general, where they claimed that a SU-25 was shot down over Popasna as well.

However, it is important to note that the Botashev is a retired general. It was found by Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian investigative journalist outlet headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov that Botashev was released from the Russian army in 2013.

Why? According to their report, he and the commander of the military unit 23326-2, Colonel Yevhen Oliynyk, went on an unauthorized ride in a Su-27UB where Botashev sat in the co-pilot’s seat. They performed air maneuvers, tricks, and aerobatics. The two high-ranking men lost control over the aircraft and ejected. As a result, they got dismissed from military service. This gives us a glimpse into how the Russian forces are trained and their attitude towards serving in the military.

It is no secret that high-ranking US military officers would never take an aircraft for a “joyride,” more so crash it just because they went out to have “fun.” If Russian officers can fiddle and play with their fighter jets, then you could imagine what type of example they set to conscripts and those with lower ranks to them. If this happened in the US, officers would get booted and get a slap on the wrist, with their image forever tainted.

“Goodbye Commander… There are few people on this planet who lived in the sky as much as you. The sky takes the best, today it took you,” a user said in the Fighter-bomber telegram channels.

Intel does claim that he was part of the sniper pilot class, which training takes over 10 to 12 years to produce. The length of training costs Russia about $8 million in tax money, so Botashev was the real deal. We give credit to where credit is due. However, it does seem a bit unprofessional that he would be going out doing barrel rolls in fighter jets while not on an official mission or training exercise; he got booted, so his discipline and character might not be one of the best Russian forces has to offer.

The Russians have been trying to obtain military success in Ukraine for quite some time now. After over four months of fighting in Ukraine, the Russian forces have been absolutely dismal with their performance, only capturing Kherson and Mariupol with thousands of troops dead. Now, Botashev is added to the ever-growing list of high-ranking military generals that have been killed in Ukraine. He is also the first general to be killed in aerial combat.

Who is Botashev, and How Did He Get to Ukraine?

The 63-year-old Retired Russian Major General of the Russian Air Force Kanamat Botashev is a pilot from Karachay-Cherkessia who received the qualification of a “fighter-bomber” from the Yeysk Higher Military Aviation Institute.

Novaya Gazeta reported that he was the commander of an airbase in Voronezh and frequently operated MiGs. It was here that he ordered Colonel Yevhen Oliynyk to take him for a ride on a Su-27UB. He was a colonel, so he could not refuse the General. They subsequently crashed, but the two men had managed to eject.

Retired Russian General Kanamat Botashev (Viet Quoc). Source:
Retired Russian General Kanamat Botashev (Viet Quoc/Facebook)

“Botashev and Oleynik were dismissed from the army. The direct culprit of the destruction of the fighter was sentenced to four years of imprisonment conditionally. He was also awarded compensation for damage caused to the Ministry of Defense in the amount of five million rubles. Although the state prosecution insisted on compensation for damage in full, that is, in the amount of the residual value of the destroyed aircraft, estimated at one hundred million rubles. The court decided otherwise. This trial took place in 2013 – then the court could still independently determine the amount of compensation for damage as a result of the crime so that this amount was reasonable and fair.”

So if he was dismissed, how did he get to Ukraine? Well, it must be his nationalism working at play as rumors circulated that the retired general could not stay away from the action in Ukraine.

Since he was dismissed, he allegedly joined the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary force that is widely known as Putin’s private army – mercenaries comprised of former Russian military servicemen who are hired by the Russian government whenever they want to intervene in a military conflict unofficially, so they don’t get international repercussions. We cannot confirm his membership in the Wagner Group as of this time. The Wagner Group has been reported to be operational in Ukraine after the Chechen forces failed to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the first phase of the war.

A Su-25 shot down in Luhansk, rumored to be Botashev's aircraft (Rob Lee). Source:
A Su-25 shot down in Luhansk, rumored to be Botashev’s aircraft (Rob Lee/Twitter).

His death is also accompanied by the death of another Russian Colonel, Alexey Smirnov, who was the commander of Russia’s 98th Airborne Division. Not much is known about the circumstances of his death; thus, we cannot confirm whether he is really dead. However, a Russian news outlet, K1 News, had reported on the alleged death, describing that he died during the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.

They now join the 12 Russian generals killed by the Ukrainian forces, a testament to one of their worst military performances that will haunt them for years to come. Currently, the Russians are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in Donbas, trying to gain full control of the Luhansk region amid rising casualties and tactical failures.