Support The Moscow Times!

Downed Russian Pilot Set Off Grenade to Avoid Capture By Syrian Militants

Sergei Bobylev / TASS

The pilot of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet shot down by militants in northern Syria on Saturday avoided capture by blowing himself up with a grenade.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Saturday that the Su-25 pilot had successfully ejected but later died in a gun battle with militants. Russia stepped up airstrikes in the Idlib province shortly after the downing, killing more than 30 Islamist fighters from Jabhat al-Nusrah, the terror group that was linked to the plane's downing, Interfax reported on Saturday.

“He shot back as much as he could once encircled, but when the situation became desperate, Major [Roman] Filipov blew himself up with a grenade,” the Kommersant business daily reported Monday, citing military sources.

The defense ministry later confirmed that the pilot had taken his life with a grenade after being encircled by militants, Interfax reported.

Unverified social media footage picked up by Russian state television reportedly shows Filipov’s last battle.

“This one is for the lads,” a man is heard shouting in Russian, followed by the sound of an explosion and a plume of smoke amid a scattered group of armed men in military fatigues.

The Defense Ministry announced that it would posthumously award Filipov the “Hero of Russia” title, the country’s highest honor.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.