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Military intelligence on Il-76 crash: Prisoner swap was planned, claim about Ukrainian POWs not yet verified

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 24, 2024 2:40 PM 2 min read
Military intelligence spokesperson Andrii Yusov. (Eugen Kotenko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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An exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine was planned for Jan. 24, Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov said in a comment for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Yusov made the comment after a Russian Il-76 transport plane reportedly crashed in Belgorod Oblast earlier on Jan. 24. While Ukrainian media wrote, citing military sources, that the aircraft carried S-300 missiles, Russia claimed that it was transporting 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war for an exchange.

The military intelligence spokesperson told RFE/RL that the claim about Ukrainian prisoners on board is currently being verified.

"I can state that the exchange planned for today is currently not taking place," Yusov told the news outlet.

Russian Il-76 transport plane crashes in Belgorod Oblast
A Russian Il-76 transport aircraft crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24 at around 11 a.m. local time, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the country’s Defense Ministry.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported earlier that a Russian Il-76 transport aircraft crashed in Russia's Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24 at around 11 a.m. local time, citing the country's Defense Ministry.

The crash was later confirmed by the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Ukraine's Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War responded to the claims about Ukrainian prisoners, saying it is investigating the information. The headquarters urged the public to trust only statements by authorized persons and warned against potential information operations on Russia's side.

Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said that he is "finding out all the details of the event and analyzing the information received."

"I call on media representatives and citizens of Ukraine not to draw premature conclusions and trust only official sources," said Lubinets.

According to Suspilne, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said it could not confirm whether the plane was hit by Ukrainian forces, adding that the information is still being clarified.

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