Ukrainian hacktivists from the Cyber Resistance hacked Russian pilot Maxim Okss’ mailbox, a former Air Force officer and now a “civilian” pilot in command of the Ilyushin IL-76 transport aircraft of the sanctioned Aviacon Zitotrans airline. The contents of his mailbox disclose information regarding Russian aircraft transporting guns, ammunition, and sanctioned products from Iran, South Africa, and Mali to Russia.
The hacked data, published by the InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community, shows Okss worked in military transport aviation and ascended through Russian army ranks to become the commander of the 566th Separate Military Transport Aviation Regiment, military unit 41495, based in Seshcha, Bryansk Oblast.
Colonel Okss was promoted to chief of service – senior inspector-pilot of the flight safety service of the Military Transport Aviation Command Staff, military unit 25969 (Moscow, Matrosskaya Tishina-10). Okss quit the military and went into civil aviation after flying IL-76 freight planes.
Okss’s initial civilian job was with ALROSA Airlines, but in May 2021, he shifted to the Aviation Rescue Company of Russia’s Ministry of Emercom.
This state-owned aircraft firm provides a broader variety of services than rescue operations. VIP and corporate passenger transportation, as is sanitary evacuation from taiga or frozen zones, is critical for isolated rotating camps in Russia. However, this company also handles freight transportation.
Hacktivists discovered data about a flight conducted by this airline on February 6, 2023, on the route Moscow (Zhukovsky Airport) – Urmia (Iran) within an array of technical paperwork.
Urmia is the administrative centre of West Azerbaijan, an Iranian province. Just a week before this flight, there were media stories regarding an Israeli army raid on Iranian weapons manufacturing.
As a result, explosions were recorded in the Shahid Salimi industrial zone in the neighboring province of East Azerbaijan. According to the map, this industrial zone is only an hour and a half drive from Urmia, where the Russian cargo landed.
What kind of supplies did the Russians transport there? Documents from the ex-colonel’s correspondence show that it was not “humanitarian” in nature, as stated in the flight summary.
Due to the pilot duty rosters, we also know that this airline’s IL-76 aircraft flew to Africa and Syria.
Everything is evident in Syria – there were planes to Latakia and the Russian Khmeimim airfield to transfer cargo for Russian forces stationed there. All flights to Syrian bases are indicated in grey on the roster, suggesting a government directive. For example, there were 13 such flights to Syria in February 2023 alone.
Commercial flights to Bamako, Mali’s capital, are also available. It is commonly known that Russia has a strong presence in Mali, most notably through the old Wagner Group. The “commercial” customer was the Wagner PMC. It’s hardly surprising that the number of flights to Bamako increased dramatically in June 2023. The mail dump includes a separate document containing flight routings and aircraft loading.
Thus, from June 21 to 22, several flights were operated along the itinerary Ramenskoye – Krasnodar – Latakia – Bamako – Latakia – Bamako – Latakia – Bamako – Latakia – Krasnodar – Ramenskoye. Such a sudden uptick in activity is an intriguing coincidence, given that Prigozhin’s putsch occurred on June 23 and 24, 2023.
Okss was transferred to the private sanctioned cargo airline Aviacon Zitotrans in August or September, transporting freight for approved Russian military-industrial enterprises. Aviacon Zitotrans, according to the NAPC of Ukraine’s website, transfers military hardware such as missiles, warheads, and helicopter parts all over the world. Aviacon Zitotrans, for example, transported military cargo to Africa, Venezuela, and other countries.
As an example of their efforts, as of September 2022, Aviacon Zitotrans was attempting to use a Turkish company and Turkish diplomats to facilitate the sale of Russian military equipment abroad on behalf of OJSC Rosoboronexport, a state-owned Russian military industry company sanctioned by the US.
As a result, Okss’ flight schedule will be disrupted in August. However, we discovered another crew’s journey to Cape Town on August 3, 2023.
In September, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared that an independent expert panel had uncovered no proof that any Russian ship was transferring weapons from South Africa to Russia in May 2023. This could be accurate because the weapons were transported by air rather than sea, with transport planes from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Russia continues a war of aggression against Ukraine, with a track record of aggressions abroad, and it is unlikely to stop with Ukraine. The West’s assistance for Ukraine with arms and ammunition is a matter of security for the world.