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Military intelligence: Russia currently refuses international commission to investigate Il-76 crash

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 26, 2024 12:47 PM 2 min read
A Ilyushin Il-76 seen above Moscow, Russia on May 9, 2021. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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An international commission is needed to establish the cause of the Russian Il-76 transport plane's crash, but Moscow currently rejects this option, Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov said on air on Jan. 26.

Russia has alleged that the military aircraft that crashed in Russia's Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24 was destroyed by Ukrainian forces and that it was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs).

Ukraine has called Russia's narrative into question and demanded an international investigation.

"Concerning specific causes of the plane's crash, the request to create an international commission is logical and well-founded," Yusov said. Such an investigation could examine the wreckage of the plane and uncover its black box, he noted.

"At the moment, as we hear, Russia rejects the possibility of such a commission."

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Russian authorities have discovered both black boxes of the downed aircraft, sending them to a Moscow military laboratory for analysis.

The spokesperson reminded that to this date, Moscow has not provided clear evidence that would confirm its version of the events.

He reiterated his previous statement that a prisoner swap was planned for that day but did not happen in the end. Yusov also revealed that the exchange was meant to be the 50th such event and one of the largest in the entire full-scale war.

Military intelligence: Senior Russian officials were supposed to be on Il-76 flight but did not board
High-ranking Russian officials were supposed to be on board the Il-76 aircraft that crashed in Belogorod Oblast on Jan. 24, but the Federal Security Service (FSB) did not allow them to board at “the last moment,” Andrii Yusov, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson, told RFE/RL on Jan. 25.

The military intelligence agency said earlier that Russia failed to provide warnings regarding airspace safety before the flight of the Il-76.

In turn, senior Russian lawmaker Andrey Kartopolov claimed on Jan. 25 that Ukraine was given a 15-minute warning ahead of the flight. Kyiv is denying this claim.

Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he had turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to find out whether Russia informed the organization about the supposed POW transport.

"I want to get an official response from the ICRC that the Russian Federation announced they would be transporting Ukrainian prisoners of war in one way or another on that day," Lubinets said.

"I am convinced on 99% that they did not inform anyone because they never do this, just as they violate other norms of the Geneva Convention."

Following Russia's appeal, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to address the Il-76 crash but failed to give a definitive statement on the events.

"The United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports or the circumstances of the crash," UN Under-Secretary General Rosemary DiCarlo said.

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