Ukraine's Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk accused Russia on Jan. 25 of attempting to discredit Ukraine using the case of the crash of the Russian Il-76 transport plane in Belgorod Oblast.
A Russian Il-76 transport plane crashed on Jan. 24 in Belgorod Oblast, allegedly killing everyone aboard. Russia's Defense Ministry then claimed that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on the plane, scheduled to take part in a prisoner exchange later. Ukrainian authorities did not confirm this information and insisted on an international investigation.
"During the Jan. 24, 2024, massive Russian propaganda targets external audiences with a flow of fake news in an attempt to discredit Ukraine in front of the international community," Oleshchuk wrote on his Telegram channel.
The Air Force commander said that Russia tries to minimize international support for Ukraine in such a way. He also said that no matter what, the Air Force would continue to defend Ukrainian civilians from Russian attacks.
"Lots of Russian planes with their crews will never terrorize our people again. They are destroyed! We are getting more and more tools and opportunities to get our enemy (Russia) in places it does not expect," Oleshchuk said.
The General Staff said in a statement earlier that the Ukrainian military would continue to destroy the missile delivery vehicles Russia uses to shell Kharkiv Oblast, which borders Belgorod Oblast, without mentioning the crash of the Il-76.
Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) confirmed that on Jan. 24, the prisoner swap was planned, but it did not happen. The agency's spokesperson, Andrii Yusov, also said that the claim about Ukrainian prisoners on board is "currently being verified."
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukraine will demand an international investigation into the plane crash.