Ukraine Says It Lacks Reliable Information On Who Was On Board Russian Military Plane That Crashed


(RFE/RL) — Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate said on January 24 that it does not have “reliable and comprehensive information” on who was on board a Russian military plane that crashed in the Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, killing all 74 people on board.

Russia accused Ukraine of deliberately shooting down the plane that it said was carrying 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers to a prisoner exchange.

The Main Intelligence Directorate confirmed that a prisoner exchange was to take place on January 24 and that Ukraine fulfilled all the arrangements to prepare for the exchange.

“Russian prisoners of war were delivered in time to the conditional exchange point where they were safe,” it said on Facebook.

Ukrainian military intelligence said Kyiv was not asked to ensure airspace security around the Belgorod area as had been the case during previous prisoner of war swaps.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia called for an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss the downing of the aircraft, which he called a “criminal” act by Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian prisoners of war were transported to the Belgorod region in order to conduct yet another swap that was agreed between Moscow and Kyiv,” Lavrov told a press conference at the United Nations in New York.

“Instead of this, the Ukrainian side launched an air-defense missile from the Kharkiv region. It targeted the airplane and was a fatal strike.”

Ukrainian military intelligence said Russia’s accusations that Kyiv shot down the transport plane could be “a planned action to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken international support for our state.”

Russian officials said earlier that the plane was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

“A transport plane crashed in the Korochansky district. It fell in a field near a populated area. Everyone on board died,” regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a post on Telegram.

Video on social media showed an aircraft, which appears to be a Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane, spiraling to the ground, followed by a loud bang and explosion that sent a ball of smoke and flames skyward.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the plane crash, saying he was still gathering information on the incident.

However, Russian lawmaker and retired General Andrei Kartapolov, speaking in a television interview, accused Ukraine of shooting the plane down, while the media outlet Ukrainska Pravda, citing what it called sources in the armed forces of Ukraine, wrote that Kyiv’s military had indicated the crash was “their work,” adding that the plane was carrying missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defense system. It later deleted the post.

Moscow and Kyiv have held several prisoner swaps since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The Russian Defense Ministry had earlier reported that a drone had been shot down in the region, but gave no further details.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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