A Russian army helicopter this week accidentally fired a rocket at bystanders who were watching the largest military exercises the country has undertaken since the end of the Cold War.
The incident occurred during a drill Sunday or Monday; the Russian government would not confirm the exact date or location. The authorities acknowledged that video footage was authentic, but denied people got injured, Russian media reported.
At least two people, however, were injured in the ordeal where a Ka-52 helicopter fired a missile near the bystanders, the website 66.ru reported. The footage shows a missile hitting the ground near a man who was filming the military drill.
“They were approaching the targets, had some 500 meters left to fly,” an anonymous source told 66.ru, according to the Sun. “According to their task, on the route to target they should switch on the electric chain of missiles.”
The missile was reportedly fired early due to a short circuit. “Something went wrong, the missiles were immediately launched,” the source said.
“The parts of the missiles hit a large area, at least two cars were burned, two people wounded, they are in the hospital now. Most likely, the victims were journalists.”
An official statement released by the Russian army disputed assertions that injuries had occurred.
“Every message on social media about shelling a crowd of journalists, or about wounded people is deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity,” the statement read, according to the Sun.
“The aiming system of one of the helicopters mistakenly hit the wrong target. As a result one of the trucks was damaged, but there was no one inside.”
Russia and Belarus are currently undergoing the largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War.
Officially, the exercise was supposed to include around 12,7000 troops mostly from the Belarusian side, but Western observers have rejected the estimate, claiming the actual number of troops participating in the exercise will be around 90,000, Newsweek reported.
Wary of the real intentions of Russia, the exercises put multiple NATO members, including the Baltic States and Poland, on alert.